## Monday, November 27, 2006

### There 's A Reason This Isn't What You Learned In Math

Did you catch the superintendent's comment at the end?

"Obviously," she said after the presentation by the students, "the teaching and learning of mathematics have changed over time. This is not what I learned."

There's a reason for that. There's no math at all mentioned in the article. Using a GPS system to find points is not math. Those students are being done a terrible, insidious disservice.

Chris said...

The people that started that math and technology program obviously don't know the 21st century. I'll admit, it was a very wise choice of you to ban calculators, because students can download or buy macros that hardworking college students made which can do just about anything. PDA's are even worse in the eyes of a math teacher, you can get entire "Algebrating" programs that perform anything as far as solving, simplifying, and graphing equations from preschool math to calculus. That GPS thing really isn't doing anything, but it could. I think a good exercise for triganomotry students would be to actually perform the calculations the GPS does, by hand. This would involve getting the transmission times to and from the satellites, converting it to distance, getting the positions of the satellites, and triangulating from there. But as for entering coordinates and following a blinking arrow to your destination as these "math" students did, that's just stupid.

Darren said...

In Military Science class my freshman year, one of the things we learned was "map intersection/resection". It does two things, related mathematically:

1. It can help find you if you're lost. You shoot an azimuth (with your compass) to 2 known points on the ground (say, two mountaintops). On a map, you start at those known points and go 180 degrees back from what you measured. If you shot 80 degrees to the mountaintop, then from the mountaintop to you would be 180+80=260 degrees. On your map, draw a line through the mountaintop at an angle of 260 degrees. Do that twice, and the intersection point is your location!

2. Helps you find the enemy. If you know your location and see an enemy formation at 50 degrees, and someone else whose location is known sees the same enemy formation but at an angle of 100 degrees, draw those two lines on a map and the intersection is the enemy location. Call in the artillery!

We were issued programmable calculators. Using a little bit of creativity and a little bit of trig--army compasses are different than mathematical compasses, so come interesting conversions were necessary--I was able to program my little HP-15C calculator to perform the intersection/resection for me! Of course, since we had to do it manually on the tests, I just used the calculator to check my work on assignments.

I brought this idea to my instructor. He said it was creative, but no one would ever have a calculator on the modern battlefield. This was in 1983/84. Here it is, barely 20 years later, and look at all the technology used even by grunts on the battlefield. Heck, we weren't even using GPS back then--and my calculator then was as small as a GPS receiver is today. I guess I was a little more forward-thinking than those MilSci instructors.

But at least I figured out all the math myself.

Anonymous said...

That's cool. Anyway, if machines can do the work, why make students do it?

Carson said...

And you wonder why im not so brilliant in math..... Thats what i get for going to school in Pa.

Robert said...

The sup's comment is hilarious. Talk about a non-compliment.

Robert said...