In a recent posting, Dr. David Thomas of Louisiana asked about topics no longer being taught or at least that were under consideration of not being taught. Earlier this year, I posted a concern to another list of science/math people about this same topic. My concern dealt with the teaching of multiplication and division of fractions. I teach 6th grade and highly question the need for this. As an adult, I can do these types of problems, but in real life, I don't...ever. I know one might say it is needed, for example, in cooking. What if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of flour and I only want a half recipe? I know that 1/2 of 1/4 is 1/8. However in reality, I simply fill the 1/4 cup measure 1/2 full.
My question is this: Is it necessary to teach this topic? If so, are 6th grade students conceptually ready? My feeling, on both counts, is no. When I last posted this concern, I received some response, both positive and negative. I even had a chemistry professor from the East who blamed elementary teachers like me for her college students' inabilities in math (I didn't know my powers!). At my school we call that kind of "pass the blame" thinking "It's Aggies's fault" (Aggie is our top of the line kindergarten teacher). Anyway, to me, it is simply painful to the kids to go through (yes, I do use lots of manipulatives of the standard kind) and I seriously question its "real world", to cite another current buzz term, applications.
Robert Wilson email@example.com North Winneshiek School Decorah, Iowa