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Topic: Mathematica in Secondary Education


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Subject:   RE: Mathematica in Secondary Education
Author: markovchaney
Date: May 29 2007
Mr. Privacy wrote: "It is exciting to have these new capabilities for learning,
but I, too, am not sure just how these tools are going to change the instruction
of mathematics, or how they can be used to optimally learn mathematics."

Your chronology seems a bit off (not for you, but for things in general). That
is to say that the TI family introduced the 89 in early 1998. I attended a
lecture at a regional NCTM conference in Cleveland in Nov. 1997 by TI
guru/emeritus OSU math professor Bert Waits where he revealed the existence and
pending release of the TI-89. (The TI-92 was the state of the art, but
couldn't be used on, say, the SATs because of the QWERTY keyboard.) So for about
$150,
kids could have a calculator that did everything the 92 did, including a CAS.
And that led Waits to ask the key question: given the likelihood that your
students will have this device or one like it in the foreseeable future, what
part of the standard algebra curriculum will you change to account for the
innovation? He told a great anecdote about teaching trignometric interpolation
in the '70s at OSU when a kid said, and I quote, "Professor Waits, you're an
idiot." Why? Because the kid could find the trig values in an instant on his
shiny new scientific calculator. And Waits said, "The kid was right. I WAS an
idiot."

So how will CAS on a handheld or Mathematica or Maple, etc., on a laptop, change
mathematics pedagogy? If it doesn't, there are a lot of idiots out there.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence that there are, in fact, a lot of
idiots out there, and they're teaching mathematics in the United States.

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