**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)

Where to next?Student Questions for this article

Newspaper article

Index - Related articles

Index - Number

Main Index - Numeracy in the News