Discussion:  Roundtable 
Topic:  Arithmetic Facts 
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Subject:  Arithmetic Facts 
Author:  Chuck 
Date:  Sep 11 2003 
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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