That's not a typical approach? Mr Harkey sounds like every science or maths teacher that I had (sans chemistry, unfortunately) since fourth grade upwards.
Is mathematics really taught in the same way as some capital memorization for geography? I recall that you were homeschooled, just like I was in a rather weird high school so the perspective of both of us could be somewhat skewed… but (almost?) any approach other than the one in the article strikes me as a weird choice.