Richard Tocci

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


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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...

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