Importance of rough-work to solve maths sums
I remember my childhood experience of doing mathematics. My maths teachers created a habit of maintaining rough-work along with the actual working of a maths sum. My classmates and I used to draw a vertical line about one third down the page and wrote the heading prominently: ‘rough-work’. This provided evidence for our thinking process as we used it to solve questions. I remember my teacher was very concerned about the rough-work along with the actual solution of the sum. That style of working, which was rigorously maintained, helped the teacher to address our way of approaching maths problems.
Last Friday my daughter – a grade 4 student - came to me to seek help regarding a maths sum. Rather than telling her straightforward steps to solve the sum, I used a student-centred approach. I asked, “Mimi where you will do rough-work?” In response to this question she didn’t say anything. She was quiet, her body language and facial expression made it seem like I was speaking some alien language. I asked her about the routine she was guided to use by her maths teacher when solving a maths question. She described the process but there was no role of rough-work.
I thought about that - Why didn’t the maths teacher value the use of rough-work along with the solution to the question. It may be because of time; teachers have more work to do and guiding students about rough-work and ‘the right answer’ is problematic for them. It could because of students; they have more to do and maintaining both portions side-by-side is difficult for them. It could be because of school management who are focused on a ‘traditional-style of Mathematics teaching’ or they figure that rough-work makes the exercise book look messy! May be there is no need to doing both types of work?
I pose both questions to you, to my readers (maths teachers or parents):
‘Is it beneficial to maintain rough-work along with the solution of a maths sum?’ and
‘What could be the reasons students are not maintaining rough-work along with solving questions?’