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Topic: More on why we need math, etc.
Replies: 3   Last Post: May 1, 2001 12:21 PM

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Mark Bridger

Posts: 22
Registered: 12/6/04
More on why we need math, etc.
Posted: Apr 30, 2001 10:31 AM
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Lin M. asks:

"What do we do

(1) to be sure that students who will become
mathematicians, know math (and technology)and

(2) to be sure that students who need to use math in other
disciplines (which is of course the larger group), know how
to do their math with technology?

There is something left out:

(3) to be sure that students who need to use math in other
disciplines know math.

Note the difference between (2) and (3).

I hope that "calculus reform" (or "math education reform")
hasn't devolved to "using technology." An equation solver
will tell students that the solution to 3x=6 is x=2; yet, I
still get students (in college!) who, in effect, subtract 3
from both sides instead of dividing, when they do it by
hand. That is not satisfactory; technology does not help
here.

Also, in response to Victor, I think that high school and
college are not just surveys of what subjects are *about*,
but rather, should give students a taste of what it's like
to *do* these subjects. Students should spend some time
*being* physicists, musicians, historians, sociologists.
That means doing some nitty-gritty. Go outside: there's a
big tree or building. How high is it? What happens when you
increase the length of a penduluum; sure it goes slower,
but by about how much? How does a medical examiner know how
long ago a body expired? (Related: let's measure some
arsenic in drinking water.) The fact is, these are good
things to do, you need math to do them, and you need to
understand the math. If you'll pardon the slang, Magliozzi
is full of it; we ought to know better than to let him get
away with it, or to try to put the best face on his bald
statements.

Math teacher self-loathing is getting tiresome.


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