Calvin and Hobbes - Difficult sums

This cartoon offers an opportunity to investigate the place value system, equations, mathematical terminology and common misconceptions about algorithms.

(Written by Geoffrey Howells, BTeach student, University of Tasmania, 2001)

This sort of reasoning is the price paid for teaching maths in a deconstructed, decontextualized manner. Many maths students have no real understanding of "x".

Numerator, denominator, abscissa,.... are very difficult words for young students; are they not like the Closure, Identity Transitive,... Laws in that students can do calculations just as well without knowing these names?

Sometimes it is better to use common sense/intuition rather than use sophisticated mathematical principles such as "Let the answer be x". Certainly common sense/ intuition should always be used along with whatever other mathematical principles/strategies.

Because students do not really understand the concepts "taught" they resort to memorising algorithms: the more conscientious students may reproduce the algorithm correctly, while other, like Hobbes regurgitate a hodge -podge of gobbledegoo

(Written by Kathy Blum, Teacher)

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