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Topic: rethinking
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Bob Richardson

Posts: 8
Registered: 12/4/04
Posted: Apr 26, 2001 7:51 AM
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I'm glad to see the current discussion(s) taking place. I
don't contribute much but I read and enjoy it all. I think
this list does serve many purposes.

Most contributors seem to be interested in the "nuts and
bolts" of calculus so I'd like to pass on an experience I
had yesterday which might fit that category. Brian Felkel
and I are just finishing up a new on-line business text with
live links to lots of stuff. We use Excel and Maple (any cas
will do) in an integrated every-day fashion. I called our
assistant Dean in the College of Business yesterday and
presented the following (His name is Tim Burwell and he has
a B.S. in math, Ph. D. in economics and much experience in
business so I like to get his advice).

I explained to Tim that we have just finished teaching the
part where integral calculus is explained and used, and, in
Monday's class I had posed the question of how wide one
would need to make airline seats to accommodate 99% of the
people getting on the plane. After a short discussion, they
had worked the problem using Excel and Maple - time elapsed:
about 15 minutes. Brian and I wanted to know how much
integration by hand we should cover (its getting near the
end of our term). His response was as follows:

"Since you have covered the concepts needed, a short
discussion from a historical perspective might be OK. No
more than how one gets the anti derivative of x^n, however".

I was a little surprised and pursued it with him. It appears
he has in mind about 15 minutes discussion. His point was:
if they have the concepts we use all the time and ever need
to do any integration of formulas by hand in a graduate
course, it is more time and cost effective to teach them at
that point.

Having taught calculus and business classes for many years,
I guess I should not have been surprised, but I was. Twenty
years ago (10?) this would have been heresy and might still
be at some schools.

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