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Topic: Response to David Klein re. Harvard Calculus
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Posts: 8
Registered: 12/6/04
Response to David Klein re. Harvard Calculus
Posted: May 21, 1997 7:28 PM
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David Klein writes:

"I have been frustrated by the lack of basic calculus and
algebra skills that Harvard Calc taught students have. They are ill
prepared for subsequent math courses."

I wonder whether David really means "calculus and algebra skills" as opposed
to "symbolic manipulation". I find that students taught on the conceptual
level of programs such as the Harvard Calculus are, in fact, more deeply
connected to the basic concepts and purpose of calculus. The trade-off seems
to be that there is a reduction in the students' abilities in applying the
rules of algebra and trigonometry.

Perhaps we could look at this as an opportunity rather than a curse. I have
found that students who come to understand and appreciate the concepts of
mathematics are more often motivated to work to develop an understanding of
the underlying structure that the concepts are built upon. I would expect an
increase in the number of students who would look with favor on new courses
designed to develop the skills that are de-emphasized in conceptual calculus

I fail to see why calculus remains in the minds of so many as THE course that
qualifies students as mathematically able.

Mike Shelly

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