Sunday, January 3, 2010

Favorite comments of '09: TerriW, Beth, and Niels Henrik Abel on Everyday Math problems:

Re this and this

TerriW writes:

If only they would play "Broken Calculator" all year...

Beth writes:

If this is the final exam, what happens to a kid who checks off "needs lots of practice" in all the categories? Will the child be given additional help and practice, or just sent out to summer vacation and the next year of math, which he isn't prepared for?

The emphasis on performance and grades rather than actual learning is a big problem, and it doesn't get better when you have the kids grade themselves. The "grade yourself" portion of this test is huge. It supports the message that the entire function of a year's worth of math classes is to finally pass judgement on the child.

And Niels Henrik Abel writes:

"Does it matter"?

What is the antecedent to the pronoun? There are two possible ways to imagine what the intended question is:

Q1) Does it matter whether you prefer to do operations with fractions or decimals?

A1) No, it doesn't matter what you prefer - you need to learn to do both anyway.

Q2) Does it matter whether operations are done with fractions or with decimals?

A2) Yes, it matters. Fractions are always exact, and you need to be proficient at manipulating them, particularly if you want to succeed at algebra (think: rational expressions).

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