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Topic: How we teach calculus or the Political Economy of the Pre
Replies: 3   Last Post: Feb 11, 2002 3:16 PM

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BCrombie@AOL.COM

Posts: 108
Registered: 12/8/04
How we teach calculus or the Political Economy of the Pre
Posted: Feb 11, 2002 12:04 PM
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Watching this discussion there is one point that troubles me: the political
economy of the Pre. A Pre is a rather mysterious animal, neither fish nor
foul. It hovers in the interstices between courses. It manages to delay
learning for the student and also generates a tidy sum for institutions and
publishers than support it.

The latest exorcism of the Pre was during the mid-ninties. High schools in
this country suffered from a serious infestation of pre-algebra. Even now
middle schools unable to grasp the Algebra by the 8th grade benchmark in
anything but name sometimes re-invoke the Pre as an act of desperation. But
the Algebra case has demonstrated that the Pre never fundamentally addressed
the learning issues from previous math courses and merely postponed (most
often to the detriment of the student) the learning sequence.

"Tis here, 'tis there, 'tis gone." Pre-calculus, too, is a phantasm. Is it to
be college algebra or college calculus. Come on. Give the young a fighting
chance. A Pre- prefix on a course indicates that either the previous course
or the present course is not addressing the learning task at hand.

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