The Wrong Door, Or Why Math Gets a Bad Rap

I really enjoyed this news article on how to motivate young students to enjoy mathematics. Surprise, surprise: it isn’t by doing a whole bunch of rote arithmetic or algebra problems.

http://www.maa.org/news/the-wrong-door-or-why-math-gets-a-bad-rap

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2 Comments

  1. From the link: Or take this homier analogy: “You wouldn’t invite someone over to your house and say, ‘Okay, right here: This is the bathroom.’ But that’s what we do. We show students the wrong side.”
    It starts almost on day one in school. The abstraction of the concept of number as a noun and not, as in everyday usage, as an adjective is the first step in the mystification process. Obsessing with properties of (binary) operations follows rapidly, along with a notation (2+3) which itself hides a lot of baggage. I came across a fairly enlightened teacher blog where it was asserted ” ‘of’ means ‘multiply’ “. Again the wrong end of the stick. “Multiply” means “of” is a more natural way of progressing. The influence of “Modern Algebra” has not helped. You have to read this:

    http://jzimba.blogspot.com/2015/12/multiplication-is-not-completely.html

    And this guy was one third responsible for the CCSSM.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the reference. I agree, the author was utterly pedantic… this makes for a great cocktail conversation between mathematicians but should never see the light of day in an elementary mathematics classroom.

    Reply

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