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Discussion: Roundtable
Topic: Arithmetic Facts


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Subject:   Arithmetic Facts
Author: Chuck
Date: Sep 11 2003
Wow!  What an interesting topic.

I do not want to grandstand, but I have been teaching for 38 years and I STILL
do not know my multiplication tables.  In general, I am not good at memorizing.
I do not know 7x6.  But I do know 7x3=21 so 7x6=42.  In elementary school I
earned 100% on every test, but I was always the last to finish.  What is 7x8?  I
do not know, but 7x2=14, so 7x4=28, hence 7x8=56.  I have reduced memorized
facts to the smallest number necessary.  

Some things have to be memorized.  The quadratic formula.  You cannot derive it
every time you need it.  But cos Pi/3 = ?  An image of the unit circle with the
angle in standard position will give you the answer.  I don't want my calculus
student to memorize this. Visualize it.

I am saying that memorized math facts are far less important than other aspects
of mathematical thinking.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this.  I enjoy the dialogue.

Charles Oelsner
Syracuse, NY

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