### Oh, P.S.

Yesterday I posted some ramblings about presenting rational-number arithmetic to battle-scarred victims of the math wars. But I left out the saddest part. Here it is: the expensive calculators *required* for this class can carry out the computations in question ( and *very* easily! The code for the first, *e.g.*, is “**2/3 – 1/4****Frac**” (the “**Frac**” feature is the first option in the “Math Menu” and so requires two keystrokes; everything else is right there in front of us on the keypad—and just as it appears on the printed page, with no “implied parenthesis” or what have you [by way of contrast, in order to code, *e.g.*, one must recognize that the “fraction bar” acts as a “grouping symbol” and enter **(5X-1)/7**; the usual mistake—**5X-1/7**—of course represents according to the “order of operations” conventions … and all this might very well seem sort of overwhelming, I suppose]).

And I’ve more or less *begged* ’em, over and over, to use their calculators for these problems! (“When you’re working out homework problems, you should do the calculations by hand for practice—computing with fractions is a big part of our course [and algebra more generally]; when you’re in a hurry or—on exams or quizzes, say—need to *check* your work, by all means, break out the computer … look, it’s *this* easy …”)

And I say this that’ll never grow tired of denouncing the pernicious influence of all this high-tech folderol on math ed. Yep. That’s the saddest part. Meanwhile, as I was hinting earlier, the most will-sapppingly *frustrating* part is having to show up every day and talk about this kind of stuff in the face of what seems like pretty ample evidence that whatever I say is not only *ignored*, but actively *resisted*. It beats working, I guess.

February 6, 2008 at 7:13 pm

this paper looks potentially useful.

pretty badly garbled by my browser, however.

my main man h. wu is of course also very good on fractions.