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Topic: Factoring

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Subject:   RE: Factoring
Author: Mathman
Date: Nov 3 2006
On Nov  3 2006, John Mac wrote:
> Why do we teach our kids to factor?

What possible application is
> there?

A legitimate question; most will not need it throughout their normal lives.
However, I'd answer simply with the word "Calculus".  Then you might ask why we
teach them that?  I have used the analogy of a dictionary.  Pass it to the first
student and tell him or her to erase all the words s/he thinks we'll never need
or use.  Then pass it to the next, and the next, ... .  There would be precious
little left at the end.  You might ask why study English?  We all use it, so who
needs to study it?  Some will use it more proficiently than others.  They will
have the tools to do so.  Factoring is a tool, a technique that has many
advantages in simplification of larger expressions, making them both easier to
handle and more readily understood [as in simplification of simple fractions as
well.]  That is all it is, but put that together with all the other tools and
you have a high-level language, not just street talk and basic arithmetic.

The study begins with numbers and prime factors.  It doesn't end there.

The problem with teaching the young is that they are not fully differentiated or
developed.  You do not have the right to abandon hope for them that they will
not find a use for what they do study.  They don't even see a need for
fractions, and we don't abandon that either ...well, not entirely.


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