Elizannie has to stick her oar in on this latest headline in the Gruniad:
Actually, I used to feel smug about the times tables chart. There it sat, with all those gold stars against my name. That is not to say I didn't worry myself sick [literally] on times tables testing day. I worried myself sick about lots of things at school except home time. But actually chanting the times tables was relatively easy. What no-one realised all those years ago was that I had an extremely mathematical brain [and before someone says how unusual for a girl - don't] and conditions like dyscalculia* exist.
I hope that you have just followed my link and understand about dyscalculia. Because despite having a mathematical brain and being able to recite times tables before the hat drops and perform mental addition quicker than a calculator [which depends on how fast the operator can input the figures, don't forget] - I have an awful lot of trouble telling the time. Not a joke I can assure you. Not a joke at all if I arrive somewhere an hour early or late, which has been known if I have used an analogue watch or clock. But a form of dyscalculia never the less which lots of members of my family possess whether or not their mathematical skills are really good.
What I am trying to say is that some kids can reproduce times tables really easily, some never will. Some will parrot them back without having a feel for the numerics involved. And as in reading tests with dyslexic children - employing times table tests will not show the true intelligence of a child or young person. And although I love a good algebra problem - honestly - posing a geometrical puzzle once it gets outside the mathematical bit of adding up the number of angles in any given shape and moves on to plan and elevation I will fall by the wayside.
So teach children with love and understanding, respect their individuality and ditch this over reliance on charts and league tables. Of course this will probably cost a bit more money at the chalk face but the investment in the long term has got to be worth it.
*http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/dyscalculia For information on both dyslexia and dyscalculia