Date: Nov 15, 2012 4:11 PM
Author: Dave L. Renfro
Subject: Re: Safety Glasses in Algebra?
Robert Hansen wrote:

http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=7923725

> http://www2.wnct.com/news/2012/nov/14/3/lenoir-county-school-uses-interactive-lab-learn-al-ar-2780878/

> "One glance at her safety glasses, and one might think

> 7th grader Anne-Wesley Taylor is busy in science class.

> But this lesson on water quality is actually a new,

> interactive way to understand a sometimes confusing

> subject: Algebra."

I haven't listened to the video and don't really have

a comment about the teaching method (getting students

engaged is good, assuming it's in a way that leads to

appropriate learning), but I did want to complain about

something I see way too often (and have complained about

before), which is the tendency of advocates of "the latest

new thing" to misrepresent the past. The first sentence of

the article follows:

** When many of us were in school, math class was about

** word problems and memorization.

Since when was math class about memorization? Math has always

involved the least amount of memorization of any subject I

can think of, with the possible exception of P.E. classes.

And, now that I think about it, I took a number of multiple

choice tests on volleyball rules and other sports rules

in my high school P.E. class, tests whose preparation for

involved nothing but memorization.

As someone who always had great difficulty with memorization

(I had to transfer to another undergraduate university due to

Foreign language requirements, I got a 60 (under 70 was an F)

on my 3rd quarter 9th grade English report card because I was

making 30s to 50s on the spelling tests our class began taking

that quarter, I almost failed a supposedly easy classics elective

because I couldn't remember the various the painting and

sculpture and architecture styles we needed to distinguish

on tests, etc.), I'm EXTREMELY AWARE of the amount of

memorization in various subjects. Sure, I often forgot

things in math too (e.g. is the derivative of u/v equal

to (u'v - uv')/v^2 or (uv' - u'v)/v^2), but almost always

you can "see the complete picture" by filling in the missing

parts by using some alternate method. For example, in the case

of the quotient rule, see which of the two possibilities work

for the case of u/v = 1/x (whose result you know by using the

power rule).

Dave L. Renfro