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Topic: Re: real world nonsense
Replies: 1   Last Post: Nov 21, 1995 1:32 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: real world nonsense
Posted: Nov 21, 1995 1:32 PM
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On Tue, 21 Nov 1995 wrote:
> Mike, you should read what I wrote. I think that you should give students
> problems that are at an advantageous level of difficulty. The real world
> aspect is irrelevant.
> Kent

Kent, I DID read what you wrote. I'm simply asking you to reconsider your
position. My point was perhaps made too indirectly, so let me be blunt:
knowing that students have very definite interests (sports, sex, music,
etc.), I would urge people posing mathematics problems to take those
interests into consideration. I get the sense that some folks are viewing
this as an either-or situation: either good mathematics or 'irrelevant'
fun. Why not good mathematics grounded in fun, regardless of relevance?
How different is a problem about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
rate-of-pizza-consumption, and a typical textbook combined rate work
problem? Mathematically, not at all. But pedagogically, the former just
might hook a couple of kids who wouldn't otherwise take a serious crack
at the problem. This is a glib, off-the-top-of-my-head example, but the
point should be clear: the only thing preventing us from writing more
engaging problems is our own stuffiness and a misplaced sense of "no
pain, no gain." And perhaps it is precisely the clash between that
philosophy of life and one which believes that ANYTHING, no matter how
mundane, can benefit from some imagination, that is REALLY what much of
the debate about mathematics educational reform is about.


Michael Paul Goldenberg
University of Michigan 310 E. Cross St.
4001 School of Education Ypsilanti, MI 48198
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259 (313) 482-9585
(313) 747-2244 email:


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