
Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Posted:
Jun 17, 2013 4:27 PM


Reminds me of an experience with my oldest nephew, 6 or 7, while I was a senior in college. We had a nice discussion one evening about temperatures because we were in Iowa and having "below zero" weather using a number line comparison with a thermometer scale. As luck would have it, my younger sister was preparing to teach elementary school and observing Larry's classroom. The teacher was quizzing them on number facts and accidentally said "4 minus 9" instead of "9 minus 4" and Larry chimed right in with, "Negative 5" or possibly "Minus 5". I can't remember if the flustered teacher acknowledged correctness or not before saying "Oh, I meant to say
" Such things, elementary algebra included, are only hard if they are made hard.
Wayne
At 09:34 AM 6/17/2013, Robert Hansen wrote:
>On Jun 17, 2013, at 10:28 AM, Joe Niederberger ><niederberger@comcast.net> wrote: > > > Everyone here should read it  > > > > > http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/thefaultylogicofthemathwars/?hp > > > > Cheers, > > Joe N > > > > >Thanks Joe. > >First off, many of us have pointed out that >"traditional" math wasn't all about computation. > >I wish I had videotaped grades K through 3 with >my son. It is hard to explain how much more >effective our dialog became as he mastered >arithmetic. I think even Lou, if he could see it >with his own eyes, would be sold. The most >recent example of what I am talking about is >negative numbers. As I have said, I am teaching >him algebra this summer and a key component of >that is to give negative numbers their due. The >kids are exposed to negative numbers briefly at >the end of learning subtraction, but not with >any of the inspection needed for algebra. >Imagine trying to teach a student about negative >arithmetic and its peculiarities if you can't >use actual numbers that they can mentally add, >subtract, multiply and divide. What would the >mental result even be in that situation? > >Bob Hansen

