In article <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >In article <36B5BCE1.email@example.com>, > firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: >> My daughter had a series of questions on her 5th grade math assignments >> such as "how many 5/8's in 1". She was taught by the teacher to muliply >> a fraction by it inverse to make it equal to "1". Thus the answer to >> the question above is "there are 8/5's 5/8's in 1", which seems to me to >> be correct. However, a student's parent who happens to be a math >> teacher at another school threw a fit, insisting that there is "1" 5/8th >> in 1. He roused such a rucus that the teacher now has the students skip >> these types of questions.
How sad. Different definitions of the same technical term occasionally appear in mathematics at all levels ("continuous function" is a case in point, where I can produce 5 irreconcilable definitions in 5 books on analysis, even for functions R->R), and then the only thing to do is make the definitions clear and explain why you prefer one of them to the others. I suppose a common 5th grade analogue is encountering an unusual situation while playing a game and arguing about what the rules say.
John Harper, School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand e-mail email@example.com phone (+64)(4)471 5341 fax (+64)(4)495 5045