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jerry rosen

Posts: 244
Registered: 12/6/04
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Posted: May 24, 1997 1:33 AM
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I have been teaching college level math since 1977 and without exception,
the students who excel at the conceptual and theoretical aspects of
college math are those who have been trained in the basics of algebra and
trig. Aside from the absolute necessity of these topics (as David Klein
mentioned), the students who have mastered the "rote" stuff have learned
how to study properly along the way. Many of the students I have these
days have been educated using "fuzzy" methods. Aside from not knowing the
fundamentals, they have absolutely no idea how to study - they are
clueless to the process of acquiring knowledge.

To believe that the Harvard program will foster genuine conceptual
understanding is a huge mistake - unless we are content to have some
very superficial type of understanding. For example - students who have
some notion that the derivative has something to do with slope but can
not compute the slope of a polynomial curve and can not graph a curve
without a calculator or computer and who have no understanding of the
limitations of machines.

Of course, one can not hope to be a good math major unless they are
exposed to theory during their first two years of college math. A number
of people have expressed some excitement over the HC text. I suppose
change can be initially exciting, but keep in mind that no long term
studies have been done with respect to the HC text. Also, any text which
claims calculus can be understood, on any level, without facility in
algebra and trig. is not telling the truth. Remember we see these
students in business calculus and it is very bad - my averages have gone
down by 30 points in a decade.

Also, I have always stressed conceptual aspects of calculus. What can be
more conceptual then nearness on the real line. The transition from this
conceptual idea to inequalities involving absolute value is one thing
which makes calculus appealing.

For my money the Harvard book kills concepts. Furthermore, it!! is the
easy way out because it doesn't require pre-requisites and has no theory.

If I was willing to buy into this program it would simplify my life.

Please think about this real carefully.

Also folks who benefit from reform in terms of book sales and/or
production of articles and degrees are not the most objective judges of
this material.

Jerry Rosen

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