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Do old fashioned arithmetic algorithms really need to be taught any more?

Posted on 12/18/2011 10:06:54 AM PST by no gnu taxes

I'm talking about the old multiplication and long division calculation methods. I know what you are probably thinking. That I am some public school advocate, even though I was pissed as hell when my kindergarten daughter asked me if I knew the happy kwanzaa song.

But are these really useful anymore? I mean you can buy a calculator for $1 that does all these things and the software developers didn't use those methods for creation of the devices. Did you even understand why these algorithms worked at the time you were taught them?

Not trying to be controversial; just want to know what you think.


TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: emp; feminism; iran; nuclear; solar; stringtheory
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To: no gnu taxes

Where to start? I do not agree.


51 posted on 12/18/2011 11:05:48 AM PST by bboop (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? St. Augustine)
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To: Jim Noble

I’m in my early 50s and I’m the only one of my peers who took Latin in HS. And I didn’t know they quit teaching trig - guess I was born too soon...


52 posted on 12/18/2011 11:09:54 AM PST by stormer
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To: no gnu taxes

Definitely!

Log tables and knowing how to use them saved me during a high school physics make-up quiz that I had to ace to graduate-frequent fishing & beer related truancy involved!

My vintage 1976 VHS-tape sized TI calculator died but the log tables in the back of my “College Math” remedial text book saved the day.

Mr. Restall gave me extra credit, the quiz paper showed my work up to the point the battery died and then how I switched methods.


53 posted on 12/18/2011 11:15:04 AM PST by skepsel
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To: no gnu taxes

Bad idea. You need to know how to do basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication in your head, because there are times when your pocket calculator or computer isn’t handy. And because they are a part of mental training.


54 posted on 12/18/2011 11:15:17 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: no gnu taxes
Did you even understand why these algorithms worked at the time you were taught them?

Not most of them, not at the beginning, but with use comes understanding. It's important to teach the algorithm through rote memorization if necessary and then work examples till it sinks in. We learn most of our abstract concepts this way.

I learned the difference quotient as a part of algebra without any idea what it was used for. When I hit calculus and found out it was to calculate derivatives, I was thrilled. I already knew how!

It's stylish these days among "educators" who couldn't give you a definition of the word "concept" if their tenure depended on it to insist that children must understand what they're learning and therefore teaching them the algorithms is not conceptual.

It's rubbish. Man took thousands upon thousands of years to develop these algorithms. It's our responsibility to pass them along to the young. Wasting their time re-inventing the wheel will result in a severely stunted education.

55 posted on 12/18/2011 11:16:52 AM PST by BfloGuy (The final outcome of the credit expansion is general impoverishment.)
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To: Bryanw92
I’m sure Roman parents thought the same thing: “My child is made to rule, not to do math problems. We can hire a barbarian for that!”

"That's what Greeks are for."

56 posted on 12/18/2011 11:19:46 AM PST by decimon
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To: thecodont

I like that :) Pretty good short story


57 posted on 12/18/2011 11:20:00 AM PST by Svartalfiar
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To: stormer
I’m in my early 50s and I’m the only one of my peers who took Latin in HS. And I didn’t know they quit teaching trig - guess I was born too soon...

Good for you. I took first-year Latin and then switched to French. To this day, I wish I'd have taken all 4 years offered. I think Trig is still taught, but in New York at least, it's rolled in with Algebra II -- which makes some sense.

58 posted on 12/18/2011 11:21:09 AM PST by BfloGuy (The final outcome of the credit expansion is general impoverishment.)
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To: stormer
...there is no branch of mathematics more misunderstood and invaluable than statistics. It should be a required course...

I could not agree more! Witness people bemoaning the fact that half the population is below average!

59 posted on 12/18/2011 11:24:54 AM PST by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the People's Republic of Boulder)
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To: Designer
“IMO, children should always learn the basics first. No calculators until they can do simple math in their heads.

Everyone should be aware that a missed key-stroke on a calculator can be expected at any time.

Critical thinking skills require independent analysis of data, and that means in math as well as any science.”

Bingo... Couldn't agree more...

Math is not just mechanics but also a state of mind so to speak. Manual math skills are critical even if your most complex task is balancing the checkbook or looking at the ATM balance and determining if I spend $XX more, I will have so many $$$ left till payday.

The state of mind aspect really comes into gear if you go into a math intensive field such as sciences, engineering or some corners of business. You must learn these mechanical basics to even know what to plug into your calculator or program. And, keep in mind that someone has to write the program in the first place. Once, I found an equation and math method in a textbook and things were working out screwy. The book had the author's name and bio in the front pages. I just called up the university and asked to speak with him. Turned out that the book info was incorrect and it was supposed to be fixed in the next printing. If I had been emitted in capability to pushing numbers on the calculator instead of being able to wrap myself into the entire process then a several million $$$ design error easily could have been the result.

60 posted on 12/18/2011 11:31:57 AM PST by Hootowl99
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To: no gnu taxes

It would be nice if somebody knew what division was..
The only way to know that is knowing how to do it..

Then you have your basic ignorance of Calculus..
and even Trigonometry.. Americans are dumber than rocks..

People that flunk out of math tend to go into Law and journalism..


61 posted on 12/18/2011 11:32:25 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: 21stCenturion

...


62 posted on 12/18/2011 11:52:30 AM PST by 21stCenturion ("It's the Judges, Stupid !")
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To: dfwgator

We had to show our work as a means of showing that we actually knew how to do the math.

A correct answer wasn’t enough.


63 posted on 12/18/2011 11:52:50 AM PST by cripplecreek (Stand with courage or shut up and do as you're told.)
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To: no gnu taxes

I teach physics and chemistry at a private college prep school.

The BIGGEST problem I have is teaching kids the concept of a REASONABLE ANSWER.

Some of them don’t KNOW, (have not memorized) basic math facts...so they just write down what “the calculator” says, even when it’s a stupid answer.


64 posted on 12/18/2011 11:55:24 AM PST by Mrs.Z
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To: BfloGuy

Latin is the language of science and medicine.

I didn’t take latin but picked up a considerable bit through my interest in science. Those latin root words come in real handy.


65 posted on 12/18/2011 11:58:46 AM PST by cripplecreek (Stand with courage or shut up and do as you're told.)
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To: hosepipe
People that flunk out of math tend to go into Law and journalism..

I think it would be a good idea if high school guidance counselors would talk to students in their freshman and sophomore years and ask them about what subjects they were having difficulty with, and then take corrective action based on that information, to help prevent these students from ending up with "second choice" or "third choice" majors in college or graduate school.

66 posted on 12/18/2011 11:59:00 AM PST by thecodont
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To: no gnu taxes

IMHO, just the process of learning the +, -, * and / tables and seeing the relationships, instills self discipline, something, again IMHO, that is sorely lacking.


67 posted on 12/18/2011 11:59:51 AM PST by upchuck (Let's have the Revolution NOW before we get dumbed down to the point that we can't.)
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To: no gnu taxes

I for one would like to hail our new ‘calculator’ overlords......


68 posted on 12/18/2011 12:07:04 PM PST by gilor (Pull the wool over your own eyes!)
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To: no gnu taxes

I for one would like to hail our new ‘calculator’ overlords......


69 posted on 12/18/2011 12:07:12 PM PST by gilor (Pull the wool over your own eyes!)
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To: no gnu taxes
The point teaching Euclidean geometry was to teach you how to think, not how to find the area of trapezoid.

If you depend on the calculator you will forever be dependent on other people to do your thinking for you.

70 posted on 12/18/2011 12:08:44 PM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (Ceterum autem censeo, Obama delenda est.)
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To: no gnu taxes

EMP attacks won’t wipe out your memory nor disable slide rules.


71 posted on 12/18/2011 12:09:24 PM PST by tbpiper
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To: no gnu taxes

Please tell me you aren’t serious. “Them’s just jokes,” right?

I can’t tell you how many ignorant cashiers and waiters haven’t been able to give me proper change because the “machine” jammed, lost power, or just plain broke right in front of them.

Each time, I taught them how to count forward from the amount of the sale to the amount I tendered. Each time they stood there transfixed as if I had shown them a magic trick for the first time.

We have enough stupid people voting for Democrats. Let’s continue to teach basic readin’, writin’, and that other thang ‘bout countin’.


72 posted on 12/18/2011 12:12:46 PM PST by BuckeyeTexan (Man is not free unless government is limited. ~Ronald Reagan)
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To: no gnu taxes
I agree with many responders that the algorithms should be taught, especially in order to teach children to learn. We have a truly mind boggling amount of "facts" available throught the internet, but we are losing the ability to think logically and methodically.

We are becoming so mentally lazy that we call 911 when we get lost in a corn maze, rather than thinking and figuring a way out of the problem.

73 posted on 12/18/2011 12:14:12 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: no gnu taxes

I still do math in my head, even when on the computer and the “calculator” icon is there. I still taught my grandkids how to tell time on an analog clock with no numbers just by the position of the hands. I’ve run into kids brought up on digital clocks that can’t do that. Dunno how important that is, but it struck my fancy.


74 posted on 12/18/2011 12:20:47 PM PST by Oatka (This is the USA, assimilate or evaporate.)
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To: no gnu taxes
At the very least, children should learn how to make change without a machine, if not to give change then to know when they receive correct change.

-PJ

75 posted on 12/18/2011 12:21:23 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you can vote for President, then your children can run for President.)
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To: chris_bdba

So if we are hit by an EMP all of a sudden we have huge numbers of people who can’t mange math?
x= # that won’t be able to function w/out electronics
y= # who will starve
So x+y=z
Z= total # affected=9/10USA
Thus 1-(9/10USA)=1/10 who can do math and survive EMP


76 posted on 12/18/2011 12:21:44 PM PST by taterjay
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To: dalereed

You caught my eye. I have a K&E log-log duplex that I bought in 1944 for a HS Trig class. I worked in a bakery the previous summer greasing bake pans to get the money for the K&E. I was drafted into WWII and came back to school under the G.I. Bill. College expenses were paid including supplies for my engineering education. Picked up a metal(magnesium I think)Pickett&Eckel which had more functions and which I used more. I have a collection of slide rules including circular ones.


77 posted on 12/18/2011 12:25:13 PM PST by noinfringers2
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To: no gnu taxes

I have an idea for you to consider. Lets just teach our kids to run and skip the crawling and walking stuff.

What you are suggesting is a bad idea.


78 posted on 12/18/2011 12:31:51 PM PST by TNoldman (AN AMERICAN FOR A MUSLIM/BHO FREE AMERICA.)
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To: smokingfrog
You can’t take an abacus with you everywhere.

Well, there is an app for that... Abacus

79 posted on 12/18/2011 12:48:17 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: no gnu taxes

Sure if you want people with no concept of mathematics.


80 posted on 12/18/2011 12:48:56 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Either Obama can beat any GOP candidate or no GOP candidate.)
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To: BwanaNdege

In the story, set sometime in the future, the young hero is accused of cheating on his A&O exams. The test administrator was described in much the same way as a stereotypical Hollywood nerd is portrayed; overweight, myopic, fingertips turning spatulate due to a lifetime spent at the keyboard.

The evidence for our hero’s cheating was that he had used zero computer time and had a zero percentage error rate. It is revealed that the “A&O” meant Apples & Oranges. The math problems dealt with division and percentages and were meant to be solved with the test computer’s calculator. Our young hero had been taught fractions by his reactionary grandfather and needed no computer time to calculate. Also, because he dealt with fraction through all of the intermediate steps of calculation, he had no rounding errors (i.e 1/3 -0.33333333...)

I would love to read this story. If you (or anyone else) can think of more details that could help me locate it either in print or online (Google has been fruitless thus far), that'd be great!

Sounds very similar in theme to "The Machine Stops" by C. S. Forester: what happens when the technology you rely on, even for your survival, starts to break down?

81 posted on 12/18/2011 12:49:30 PM PST by RansomOttawa (tm)
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To: All
In detail, this is a schematic of a 4-bit adder which can add two numbers, 0-15 and produce a result from 0-31. The symbols perform the logical operations AND OR XOR on two inputs producing an output and a carry.

This is a drawing of one of the four bit chunks. The different colors represent either conductive metal traces or different doping of the silicon to get the charge to move in the desired fashion.

The whole thing (all four bits) ends up looking like this. I think it's pretty cool. It helps to understand the math beneath it though to really appreciate its beauty.

82 posted on 12/18/2011 12:50:03 PM PST by Mycroft Holmes (Returned for regrooving...)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Then there was the man at the grocery store. The clerk said he owed 10.66.

He responded, “Ah, the Battle of Hastings.”

The clerk was puzzled so he told her that 1066 was the date for the Battle of Hastings.

The clerk fell silent and then said, “Can you do that for any number?”


83 posted on 12/18/2011 12:50:45 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: no gnu taxes
Leave the math to the Japanese and Chinese kids...we can buy their calculators.
84 posted on 12/18/2011 12:50:59 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Be good, Santa is coming)
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To: RansomOttawa
E.M. Forster, that is, of Howard's End and A Passage to India fame - not C. S. Forester the Horatio Hornblower author. I always mix those up . . .
85 posted on 12/18/2011 12:51:08 PM PST by RansomOttawa (tm)
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To: no gnu taxes
Some thirty years ago, I recall hearing a Chemistry professor complain that college kids were using the calculators on final exams.

His beef that when they were doing stoichiometry problems, they were using the calculator to type in molar conversions
...of the form x 1 = ... ÷ 1 = ...

Cheers!

86 posted on 12/18/2011 12:52:39 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: no gnu taxes

Good job writing that absurd satirical question as if you were serious. Funny.


87 posted on 12/18/2011 1:07:00 PM PST by Minn (Here is a realistic picture of the prophet: ----> ([: {()
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To: no gnu taxes
are yo really that stooopid or just pretending to be???
88 posted on 12/18/2011 1:08:13 PM PST by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: no gnu taxes

If you don’t have a grounding in the basics of math, using a calculator is indistinguishable from uttering a magic spell. They will have no idea whether the number appearing on the screen was calculated correctly or not.


89 posted on 12/18/2011 1:13:30 PM PST by spaced
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Give an example of "rote algorithm."

Counting in base ten is a rote algorithm. Note that the Greeks didn't have this technology, for all their mathematical advancements, and that it came to Europe only in the Renaissance.

90 posted on 12/18/2011 1:29:31 PM PST by dr_lew
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To: no gnu taxes

“Did you even understand why these algorithms worked at the time you were taught them?”

Is that relevant? Did you understand how a calculator works when you were first taught to use one? Do you now? Does that stop you from using one?


91 posted on 12/18/2011 1:31:24 PM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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To: Bobalu

“”The Trachtenberg System of speed math!””

I always hated math in school but the Trachtenberg System intrigued me and I loved working with it. I’ve tried over the years to remember the name of it - thanks!!


92 posted on 12/18/2011 1:41:22 PM PST by Thank You Rush
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To: no gnu taxes

What do I think? I think you should learn that happy kwanza song as soon as possible. What kind of country wants their children to grow up in a world without a happy kwanza song? If it was good enough for our forefathers and the founders of this country, then it’s good enough for us. Algorithms or AlGoreRhythms, what’s the difference? We send our children to school for interaction with others and to babysit when we are at work not for critical thinking skills. They’ll learn that on the job. maybe college . . who knows? The main thing is for our kids happiness. And that means happy kwanza songs and not boring Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Or history. or economics.


93 posted on 12/18/2011 1:46:36 PM PST by BipolarBob (Of all the taglines in all the posts in all the world and she read mine.)
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To: no gnu taxes
I mean you can buy a calculator for $1 that does all these things and the software developers didn't use those methods for creation of the devices.

Calculators, like all computers with math functions, could not have been designed by people who didn't know the principles involved backwards and forwards.

A little story about this.

94 posted on 12/18/2011 1:48:10 PM PST by Erasmus (Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Or, get out your 50mm/1.2.)
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To: dr_lew
Counting in base ten is a rote algorithm.

So, what base should children learn to count in?

Or should they not learn how to count at all?

95 posted on 12/18/2011 1:49:13 PM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (FOREIGN AID: A transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries)
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To: moehoward
... or a wrist watch slide rule


96 posted on 12/18/2011 1:49:35 PM PST by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open ( <o> ---)
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To: central_va

we are not discussing math, we are discussing arithmetic.

The author threw in algorithm to appear smart, but the subject is arithmetic

Arithmetic needs to be taught and learned.


97 posted on 12/18/2011 1:54:50 PM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: smokingfrog

Talk about a chick magnet!
That thing is an automatic leg spreader.


98 posted on 12/18/2011 2:00:37 PM PST by moehoward
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To: Ken522

I believe it still needs to be taught — teaching kids arithmetic instructs them in basic logic and causality, which is needed throughout life ... my $0.02


Logic...causality....the great enemies of liberalism.

Embrace your inner Rand (or Spock) :)


99 posted on 12/18/2011 2:01:52 PM PST by ak267
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To: chris_bdba
Well, my Dietzgen 1734 is made of mahogany, teflon, and ABS, so it will probably survive the EMP.

Except maybe for the cursor bezel, which is metal.

≤}B^)

100 posted on 12/18/2011 2:03:46 PM PST by Erasmus (Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Or, get out your 50mm/1.2.)
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