Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"But There Are No Numbers."

I was all set to do some commentary about this column when something funny happened in one of my Algebra 2 classes today.

Students were working on their assignment, which included solving the inequality |ax+b|is less than c. One girl came up to my desk for assistance, not sure where to begin. We went over what we'd do if a, b, and c were given, and she knew the correct steps. I told her to perform the same steps in the general case. She looked at me quizzically and said...wait for it...

"But there are no numbers."

You know? Just reading it here, it's not as funny as it was at the time. You just had to hear the tone of voice and see the look on her face. I got a kick out of it.

Algebra--the intensive study of the last three letters of the alphabet.


Anonymous said...

Y = x ?

Why x?



PS: Pi are NOT square! Pi are round!

BlueNight said...

For me, the big realization was that Algebra is the art of turning numbers into ones and dividing or multiplying by them, or turning them into zeros and adding or subtracting them.

Anonymous said...

I was in class with a guy who was having problems with letters as place holders in math. The teacher knew he was getting hung up on the letters so instead used pictures. He would draw a smiley face or a hand. For example, smiley face raised to the hand plus star.

Anonymous said...

One thing I always got a kick out of in math class was when the instructor was explaining the syllabus during the first class, someone would always ask "Are the tests cumulative?" Before the teacher could answer, I would blurt out "*Everything* in math is cumulative! When you learned to add 1 + 1, you'll still need to use that in calculus!"