Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A Confession to Make: Go Ahead and Count on Your Fingers

I have a confession to make. I still count on my fingers when I do a math problem. If there's no spreadsheet nearby, I'll sum up my lunch purchase with tip for the waiter using my fingers. If I can, mental math. But if not, fingers are still my go-to. I memorized my multiplication facts, but sums, not so much.


I'm not sure when I gave up feeling bad about using my fingers to do my sums. I learned to count surreptitiously barely flexing my fingers when counting. Over time, I stopped worrying about it.

Yet, a part of me still must have held a bit of concern about it. I was gratified to read this piece:

A mother called me to report that her 5-year-old daughter had come home from school crying because her teacher had not allowed her to count on her fingers. This is not an isolated event—schools across the country regularly ban finger use in classrooms or communicate to students that they are babyish.
The research report goes on to share these takeaways:
Evidence from both behavioral and neuroscience studies shows that when people receive training on ways to perceive and represent their own fingers, they get better at doing so, which leads to higher mathematics achievement. The tasks we have developed for use in schools and homes (see below) are based on the training programs researchers use to improve finger-perception quality. 
Researchers found that when 6-year-olds improved the quality of their finger representation, they improved in arithmetic knowledge, particularly skills such as counting and number ordering. In fact, the quality of the 6-year-old’s finger representation was a better predictor of future performance on math tests than their scores on tests of cognitive processing.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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