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 Discussion: All Topics in Math 6 Topic: Formulas

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 Subject: RE: Formulas Author: Mathman Date: Apr 7 2005
On Apr  7 2005, rabeldin wrote:
I don't disagree, but I would point out
> that mentioning such mental short cuts in class may short circuit
> the learning of some students. In a one-on-one, we can tell pretty
> much whether the student is ready to seal up that principle. The
> desparate student may respond either by tuning out (That's too much
> for me!) or by learning the short cut without the justification.
> Both are likely to cause problems in the long run.

I will not argue the point at a junior level, Dick, since the capabilities of
students vary so drastically.  I have taught all HS grades all levels in math,
and used both approaches to advantage.  This is why I left it open.  However, as
much as I wouldn't dream of trying to teach those with great learning problems
resolution by transposition, neither am I greatly impressed with a need to teach
it in any shape or form to them in the first place.

That said, I do not ever propose simply using transposition, but to approach it,
as I did successfully with "advanced" students, by *first* teaching the
underlying principles and constantly showing how each can be done more
succinctly; constant reminders of where it comes from with each problem
discussed.  Then moving into transposition.  One approach to this I found to be
successful was to teach the topic as I say here, leading into the idea of
transposition, then, a bit later in the semester, redoing the entire exercise
[new problems] using *only* transposition.  Marks were based upon the best out
of the two sessions, the idea being to learn, not to punish [but I'd like a
dollar for every time they mixed those two up].  When given that background and
the opportunity to resolve a problem with a lot of writing or relatively little,
the students inevitably choose the latter.

David.