Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 29–47 | Cite as

Flexible Mental Calculation

  • John Threlfall
Article

Abstract

The ability to be flexible in mental calculation by using a method that is efficient for calculating the particular problem being faced is an important aim of teaching in this area. Flexibility is commonly seen as arising from a rational choice between mental calculation ‘strategies’, based on the characteristics of the problem faced. In this article it is argued that strategy choice is a misleading characterisation of efficient mental calculation, and that teaching mental calculation methods as wholes is not conducive to flexibility. An alternative is proposed in which calculation is thought of as an interaction between noticing and knowledge, and an associated teaching approach to promote flexibility is described.

addition arithmetic calculation computation learning mental methods primary strategy teaching 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Threlfall
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of LeedsLeedsEngland

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