Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

[Phys-L] Do We Learn All the Math We Need For Ordinary Life Before 5th Grade?

Some subscribers to Phys-L might be interested in a recent post "Do We Learn All the Math We Need For Ordinary Life Before 5th Grade?" [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: In response to my post "Einstein on Testing" [Hake (2013)] at <> the following lively exchange was recorded on the archives <> of EDDRA2 [non-subscribers may have to set up a "Yahoo account" as instructed at <>]:

a. Literature major and Standardista-basher Susan Ohanian <> stated that she (paraphrasing) "never seemed to gain any insight from solving the calculus problems in Courant's text, which struck her then as plodding and now as without meaning."


c. Guy Brandenberg countered by calling attention to David Berlinski's "Tour of the Calculus" <> whose publisher states: "Were it not for the calculus, mathematicians would have no way to describe the acceleration of a motorcycle or the effect of gravity on thrown balls and distant planets, or to prove that a man could cross a room and eventually touch the opposite wall."

d. Then Susan Ramlo pointed out that students in her algebra-based physics class "almost always make a comment about how suddenly . . .[[after exposure to the *real-world* of physics]]. . . much more of calculus makes sense."

With regard to Harman's opinion that "We Learn All the Math We Need For Ordinary Life Before 5th Grade," basic to "ordinary life" is motion and change, requiring the rudiments of calculus for proper understanding (see the Bartlett signature quote).

And I agree with Ramlo's point about students' better understanding calculus after exposure to the *real world* of physics. In "Interactive-engagement methods in introductory mechanics courses" at <> I wrote: "the term 'substantive non-calculus-based mechanics course' is an oxymoron."

To access the complete 13 kB post please click on <>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <>
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs: <>
Academia: <>
Blog: <>
GooglePlus: <>

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand exponential change."
- Albert Bartlett <> [I have taken the liberty of substituting
"exponential change" for Bartlett's more esoteric "the exponential function."]

REFERENCES [URL shortened by <> and accessed on 13 Jan 2013.] Hake, R.R. 2013."Do We Learn All the Math We Need For Ordinary Life Before 5th Grade?" online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at <>. Post of 13 Jan 2013 16:52:01-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at <> with a provision for comments.