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 Discussion: All Topics Topic: Order of Operations (BOMDAS)

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 Subject: RE: BOMDAS and PEMDAS Author: rbednarski Date: Apr 14 2007

Thank goodness someone finally addressed the real problem.

The various devices used to teach Order of Operations are among the most
destructive to math learning, in my opinion.  If you put six letters to indicate
6 operations there is nothing in there to cue the students that some of them are
sequential and some of them are not.  So you need ancillary explanations and
they are not remembered - particularly by exactly the low functioning students
that need clarity the most.

I teach order of operations as 4 categories.

Category 1: grouping symbols

Categotey 2: exponents

Category 3:  Division and multilication, left to right.  They are together
because they are inverse operations of each other.

Category 4:  Subtraction and addition, left to right.  They are together because
they are inverse operations of each other.

We need to be much more careful than we are in not teaching things in ways that
greatly enhances the likelihood of confusion, particularly in the low
functioning students.  Some memory aids are wonderful.  But there are some areas
where the memory aide is positively harmful. In that regard, PEMDAS, BOMDAS and
its variants are an abomination and should be completely banned.  Little tricks
that have no grounding in the underlying mathematical concepts have no place in
the classroom, IMO.