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  • Writer's pictureOlga Malloy

It Feels So Good To Know My Tables!

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Two months into the school year, During a practice exercise, a 6th grader who has had great difficulty learning the multiplication table exclaimed: “I did not know I know my threes!”. 

In Waldorf schools, the times’ table is introduced in the 1st grade along with the rest of the math processes. The children stamp them, dance them, sing them and geometrically explore them. It means that by the 6th grade this student was practicing the tables on a daily basis for almost 5 years, while at the same time continuing to experience a failure to remember it. Often as a common practice, the child who has such difficulties would be diagnosed with a learning disability. 

However, when taking a point of view from the lens of curative education you see a completely different story. He did know the tables (it has been 5 years after all), or to be more precise, through the years he unconsciously committed it to memory. Repetition, however,  is not the sole component in the learning process. What he could not succeed in is pulling the memory by will, or in other words, bringing it back to his consciousness in a meaningful way. Our bodily senses play a central role in it There is a saying in Russian "From the mouths of babes shall come to the truth." This means one simple thing: by listening to children attentively, we can learn a lot about the reason for their experiences, and in doing so become more equipped to help. 

In his case, the delight from the success became a catalyst for the next steps of being able to recall the entire times’ tables within a matter of a single week. Ever since then, the student became a reliable mathematician who showed a great sense of number, capacity for mathematical adventures, and creativity in thinking. As he pointed out later “It feels so good to know my tables!” Working out of Steiner’s curative education in our school, we get to know each child and who they truly are in order to help remove the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their highest potential.

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