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Topic: Re: Andre's request
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 11, 1996 6:43 PM

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Kreg A. Sherbine

Posts: 26
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Fouchaux's problem
Posted: Jun 11, 1996 4:05 PM
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On Tue, 11 Jun 1996, Andre TOOM wrote:

> Dear Richard, your problem is very interesting, but when
> describing it, you completely omitted mathematics.


Maybe this is because, when the problem is presented to the students,
there isn't any mathematics inherent in the problem. (This is true of
*any* math problem.) To be more precise, there's mathematics all over
the place *for those of us who already know it's there.* But *for the
students,* the problem is initially just an interesting story about
Richard and his landlady. The object of Richard's series of lessons, as
I understand it, is (a) to help the students realize that there *is* math
in the problem; (b) to help the students figure out what math is needed
to solve the problem; and (c) to help the students solve the problem.

For each of these three parts, the role of the student is very
important. Hence we can't limit our thinking to our own understandings
of the problem; nor should we compile a list of "items to address before
we can set about solving this problem." This is a real-world problem
precisely *because* such a list does not exist; in other words, figuring
out *how* to solve the problem is an essential part of *solving* the
problem. And rather than telling students steps A, B, C, and D to the
solution, we should help students figure out for themselves what these
steps are.

Kreg A. Sherbine | To doubt everything or to believe
Apollo Middle School | everything are two equally convenient
Nashville, Tennessee | solutions; both dispense with the
sherbine@math.vanderbilt.edu | necessity of reflection. -H. Poincare






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