Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...


The contents of this blog are my own comments and opinions and do not reflect those of my family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, or anyone else I may know. Additionally, their comments and opinions are not a reflection of me or this blog. Any links contained in posts are maintained by third parties and are not under the control of this blog, and as such, this blog is not responsible for their content. All links are provided "as is" with no explicit or implicit warranty of any kind.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fractioned Mind -- Math Professor Wants Fractions Taught Only To Calculus Students

This is about the most ludicrous educational policy change I've ever heard of:

Professor: Fractions should be scrapped

This professor of mathematics feels, due to the digital age, that fractions are essentially obsolete.

"Fractions have had their day, being useful for by-hand calculation," DeTurck said as part of a 60-second lecture series. "But in this digital age, they're as obsolete as Roman numerals are."

I don't agree with him. Fractions are considered basic mathematics across the world. By the time a student is in 5th grade, fractions should be understood and used constantly. It's basic math, which means other math is based upon it.

High school physics is essentially ratio-based formulas. Let's use the Force formula for a moment, which is F=MA (Force=Mass times Acceleration). To find A, the formula becomes A=F\M, which is a fraction and a division problem. Is this guy saying high school physics should not be taught, either, because of its use of division and fractions?

I think methods should be questioned from time to time, to see if they are still viable, but basic mathematics should never be cast aside or delayed. And that's exactly what this is, basic mathematics.

It will never happen, I believe. I don't see the point, and the argument is highly illogical. Many things that are commonly taught in high school would have to wait until the student, according to DeTurck, learns calculus. Now, I'm all for learning higher math, but since calculus contains fractions, I think it's wise to learn fractions before you get to advanced mathematics, like calculus.

Oh, and let's not forget that analytical geometry and trigonometry all contain fractions, too. In fact, all of the basic trigonometric functions are....RATIOS! Ratios are fractions. And you cannot learn calculus until you learn trig.

It's teachers like this, I believe, that make our education system worse.

This argument goes right along with the misguided calculators in classrooms. I never believed students should be allowed to use calculators in classrooms. You'd be shocked at the number of people 10 years younger than me, and even more, that cannot do simple subtraction in their heads because they've relied too much on a calculator.

Calculators on tests, and now fractions disappearing. Look out...addition and subtraction will be next, because they pose a self-confidence problem. Ridiculous...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Catching up -- Happy New Year!

My neglect of this blog was not intentional. The last month has been pretty busy.

To start, my wife and I are separating, to divorce as soon as the paperwork goes through. This has been in the works for some time, but I have not talked about it, except for friends.

Because of this, I've moved out, and I have a new place in College Station. It's still pretty strange to me. I sleep alone now, and the only other beings in the house with me are the dogs. I have new neighbors, and they have dogs, so it's very interesting, and very noisy, when I put the dogs outside.

It's also strange because I am more acute to the noises around the house. I live in a duplex, so I not only hear new creaks, strains, and pings from the house itself, but I also hear noise from my neighbor. It's not that they're terribly noisy (they have 5 dogs and a cat, from what I can tell, so you'd figure the noise would be more than it is), it's just that, well, I can hear the louder noises, like cabinets closing or doors slamming.

I also had the task of getting new items for the house. I took quite a few things with me (which reminds me, I need to get my balsamic vinegar -- she'll never use it), but I had to nearly start over with basic foods and other household items. I don't have a microwave yet, either.

You never realize how much you rely on certain items until you don't have them. The microwave is a prime example. As I was shopping two weeks ago, I wanted to pick up a box of breakfast biscuits. The only ones I've ever purchased were microwavable. Well, without a microwave, that entire aisle at the store is useless to me.

This has forced me to cook and eat less. That's a good thing, though, because I need to lose weight. I have a plan to lose 60+ pounds by the end of the summer, because my class reunion is at the end of the summer, and I don't really want to look the way I do now.

So without a microwave, I can't eat crap like microwavable popcorn, and quickie meals. I can cook, it's just that, like so many other people, I lead a very busy work life, and don't always have time to cook a meal. I'm finding that I have to force myself to do this now.

I will still get a microwave, but I'll stick to my current habits, because it's better for me, and I want my kids to get good habits too.

Speaking of my reunion, I said it was at the end of the summer, back home in Maryland. We just finalized a date, and we need to get people to let us know. is where we currently have our information, but I've been tasked with getting classmates names on an Internet site, and then set up payment methods. Good thing I kept that database all this time.

This will be my 20 year reunion. Some things that have changed since the 10 year reunion:

1. 10 years older. Yeah, no kidding...
2. Divorced, remarried, two more children, divorced again.
3. Less hair on top of my head, more hair around my jawline.

Here's an interesting fact: I work for the same company I worked for when I went to my 10 year reunion. Go figure...

I expect this reunion to be fun. There is also a planned softball game -- my class versus anyone that ever went to my high school and a member of any other class. Class of 1988 vs. The World. I better remember to stretch.

On an entertainment note, I saw "Cloverfield". It was a good movie. The monster was not what I expected, but the movie was most certainly NOT a Blair Witch idea. It's much bigger than that. J.J. Abrahms certainly knows how to keep people watching. I also liked his viral marketing for this movie. Gave me a lot of background on the characters, but I also found it interesting that I really didn't need it. The story stood on its own. Very novel approach. On a 5 star scale, a definite 3 1/2.