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What is necessary to help a student learn various conceptual aspects of algebra is to find out exactly what he does not understand conceptually or logically about what he has been presented. There are any number of reasons a student may not be able to work a problem, and repeating to him things he does understand, or merely repeating (1) things he heard the first time but does not understand, is generally not going to help him. Until you find out the specific stumbling block, you are not likely to tailor an answer that addresses his needs, particularly if your general explanation did not work with him the first time or two or three anyway and nothing has occurred to make that explanation any more intelligible or meaningful to him in the meantime. There are a number of places in mathematics instruction where students encounter conceptual or logical difficulties that require more than just practice. Algebra includes some of them, but I would like to address one of the earliest occurring ones -- place-value. From reading the research, and from talking with elementary school arithmetic teachers, I suspect (and will try to point out why I suspect it) that children have a difficult time learning place-value because most elementary school teachers (as most adults in general, including those who research the effectiveness of student understanding of place-value) do not understand it conceptually and do not present it in a way that children can understand it. (2)(3) Elementary school teachers can generally understand enough about place-value to teach most children enough to eventually be able to work with it; but they dont often understand place-value conceptually and logically sufficiently to help children understand it conceptually and logically very well. And they may even impede learning by confusing children in ways they need not have; e.g., trying to make arbitrary conventions seem matters of logic, so children squander much intellectual capital seeking to understand what has nothing to be understood.