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Topic: rote learning math facts
Replies: 51   Last Post: Aug 23, 2002 6:38 PM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 Mark Houghton Posts: 82 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: rote learning math facts
Posted: Aug 16, 2002 6:18 PM

In article <1fvplug8s2676lf59pcseo1mu0qochhbjt@4ax.com>, Paul Tanner
<uprho@yahoo.com> writes
>And Mark, it is always the case that we can find a problem that
>baffles a group of students (or people in general) that are not Ph.D's
>in mathematics with a specialty in the area of the problem. The way I
>see it, sooner or later we'll have to be satisfied with a certain
>measured performance level.

I know that this first statement is true, but I chose this particular
question with intent. It tests understanding of the concepts of mean and
s.d., rather then the ability to calculate them. If you don't understand
what mean and s.d *are*, what use is the ability to calculate them?

Why do you think that British children, who are able to calculate these
quantities, can't demostrate that they understand what they mean? One
answer is this: in selecting the appropriate bits of knowledge to
impart, teachers have seen, from experience that the "important" thing
to teach (ie the one that will pass tests) is the calculation. And, as
far as this goes, they are right.

Suddenly, the exam board asks a (very good, I think) question, and
students who in any other year "understood" statistical measures, now
don't. This shows one of the difficulties ofusing standardized tests as
a "scientific measure of knowledge".

I was interested in what you had to say about innate "mathematical
talent". I do think that's an interesting area of discussion - and very
problematic. But "mathematical talent" begs for a definition.

I'd really like to have the time to discuss your post in full, as it
raises so many interesting points, but as I'm trying to move countries
ATM, there are just a couple of things more I'd like to probe.

First, by what mechanism do you think that "science [can] set some of
our goals"? This seems an odd concept. Kind of like letting a hammer
design a house ;-)

Finally, I don't think that anyone here is arguing that memorization is
bad, or wrong. The question is how to *achieve* memorization (and,
Brian, don't you think that capital cities which you've visited are
easier to remember than those you once read in a list at school ;-).

The quibble is with "rote".
M.
--
Mark Houghton
mark@mhark.demon.co.uk

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Date Subject Author
8/1/02 Art Burke
8/2/02 Kim Mackey
8/4/02 Dr. David J. Ritchie, Sr.
8/4/02 mattsmom
8/4/02 Kevin Killion
8/5/02 Brian Harvey
8/5/02 Chergarj
8/6/02 mattsmom
8/4/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/4/02 Bob
8/8/02 Art Burke
8/8/02 Chergarj
8/8/02 Art Burke
8/9/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/9/02 Brian Harvey
8/10/02 Mark Houghton
8/12/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/12/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/12/02 Brian Harvey
8/13/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/14/02 Brian Harvey
8/14/02 mattsmom
8/14/02 Mark Houghton
8/15/02 Rhombus
8/15/02 Rhombus
8/16/02 Dr. David J. Ritchie, Sr.
8/16/02 mattsmom
8/17/02 Brian Harvey
8/16/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/16/02 Mark Houghton
8/17/02 Brian Harvey
8/18/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/18/02 Mark Houghton
8/19/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/17/02 Brian Harvey
8/18/02 Paul A. Tanner III
8/17/02 Michael Greene
8/17/02 mattsmom
8/17/02 Nat Silver
8/18/02 mattsmom
8/18/02 Nat Silver
8/18/02 Mark Houghton
8/19/02 mattsmom
8/22/02 Haim
8/22/02 Brian Harvey
8/23/02 Haim
8/22/02 mattsmom
8/23/02 Haim
8/19/02 Michael Greene
8/17/02 Michael Greene