Discussion:  All Topics 
Topic:  Order of Operations (BOMDAS) 
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Subject:  RE: BOMDAS and PEMDAS 
Author:  MarcJL 
Date:  Apr 15 2007 
> I've been reading this thread in growing disbelief.
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.
Amen.
I have similar revulsion to FOIL. Kids have to be able to use the distributive
property. Most of these tricks and rules are misremembered and/or misapplied.
How would your students FOIL two trinomials?
Worse still, teaching tricks and special cases gives the mistaken impression
that "math" is a succession of tricks and procedures to memorize.
 
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