Learning a bunch of crap we'll never use - Page 2 - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind > Free Your Mind Archive
Click Here to Login
 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 04-20-2006, 10:14 PM   #16
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
maycocksean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Most Important State in the Union
Posts: 4,882
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Okay, I'm back. Thanks for your responses.

First, let me say my intention here was not to make anyone feel stupid, but to point out that something is seriously wrong with the way we teach math (and other subjects as well, I'm guessing). And I say this is a teacher.

First, a few confessions.

I'm sure many of you already suspsected this was not a real situation (some of you asked when are tile and carpet ever the same price, and wouldn't different styles of carpet and tile have different pricing. All very good "real-world" thinking). It wasn't. It was one of those "word" problems in my freshman Algebra assignment yesterday. The reason I posed it as a "real situation" was because if I'd said, "hey, can anyone solve this word problem" people might have said. . "Who cares. I hate word problems!" (That's what I would have said anyway).

Second confession. I wouldn't have been able to tell whether my "sister" had been cheated either. My students had questions on that problem when we were grading their homework yesterday, and we all worked on it together. Eventually we solved it, but we had two advantages you didn't. I had the teachers edition with the answer, so we were able to think "how did they get this answer" rather than "what is the answer AND how did they get it." Second advantage is that the students knew what this Algebra unit was about (solving systems) so they had a clue as to what they might need to do to solve the problem.

The solution, by the way is this:

Yes, she was lied to. The regular cost of the carpet, paid by the "friend" and "the boss" was $16 per square yard, the cost of the tiles (it was linoleum in the textbook, but I figured someone would ask 'who buys linoleum anymore?') was $4 per square yard. With those prices, a 10% discount should have been $9000, not $9600. She got a discount but not as much as she was told.

Don't feel bad that you got it wrong. I'm very doubtful I'd have gotten it right if I hadn't had those two advantages. And even with them I'm not sure I'd have gotten it right if I hadn't been teaching Algebra for the past five years.

So now for the FYM issue: The problem, I'm suggesting, is not that we're not "that smart". I consider the people on this thread (for the most part pretty intelligent, perhaps more intelligent than average. The problem is in the way that we teach math.

What struck me is that this situation sounded close enough to real life that it could actually happen, and I realized most of us wouldn't know if we were being misled. My students and I started talking about this yesterday and that's when we decided to post this, to "test our theory."

I guess my point is that, I hate word problems as much as the next person, but I think this is what we really need to be teaching. "Word problems." Real-life situations with real life variables using the tools of mathematics to solve them. Our schools do not teach problem solving. . .of any kind. And if we do, it's an afterthought---a couple of "word problems" at the end of 20 "exercises" to complete. And I think this is to all of our detriment.

You know you'll hear students complain about how they have to "learn all this crap we'll never use" and, in a sense, they're right.

what do you think?

Oh, and by the way those that are annoyed at me for "messing with you", I can deal with that. I deserve it
__________________

__________________
maycocksean is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 10:39 PM   #17
Refugee
 
Muggsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: I live in colombia, with a box of watercolors and butterflies in my tummy
Posts: 2,033
Local Time: 10:34 AM
i have to confess that when I read the two first lines of the thread, I left. I always had problems with logical problems and if it envolves numbers... even worse.

I remember a good math teacher I had in High school, we were always complaining because we couldn't solve the problems and he said "if you learn how to solve this kind of problems you will see life in an easier way, you will be able to see any difficult situation from a logic point of view".
__________________

__________________
Muggsy is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 10:59 PM   #18
Blue Crack Addict
 
U2democrat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: England by way of 'Murica.
Posts: 22,140
Local Time: 03:34 PM
I'm trying to think if I ever had a "good" math teacher...
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Oh yeah! My freshman year geometry teacher wasn't bad.
__________________
U2democrat is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 11:12 PM   #19
She's the One
 
martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Orange County and all over the goddamn place
Posts: 42,337
Local Time: 07:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by indra


So maybe you could ask your fifth graders to answer the question instead of denigrate the poster.
I wasn't denigrating anyone. I was responding to the puzzling title of the post. I teach my students a bunch of crap they'll use. I don't know why he titled his post what he did; but I was defending the teaching of crap, useful or not.
__________________
martha is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 11:15 PM   #20
She's the One
 
martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Orange County and all over the goddamn place
Posts: 42,337
Local Time: 07:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


Did you move up a greade or something?
Yeah. 5/6 combo.
__________________
martha is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 12:03 AM   #21
Blue Crack Addict
 
Liesje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: In the dog house
Posts: 19,557
Local Time: 10:34 AM
I'm all for word problems, but word problems are simply breaking down a bunch of useless info and organizing the useful info into regular old algebraic formulas. I guess I don't see what's more or less useful one way or the other. If you can't interpret a word problem, what use is memorizing and understanding formulas? But if you don't know the formulas, how would you ever solve a world problem?

I've always loved word problems b/c I'm rather good at figuring out what basic formula I need to use and then organizing the relevant data.

Also, I was originally confused by your post because in "real life situations" different people get things at different prices.
__________________
Liesje is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 12:20 AM   #22
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
maycocksean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Most Important State in the Union
Posts: 4,882
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by martha


I wasn't denigrating anyone. I was responding to the puzzling title of the post. I teach my students a bunch of crap they'll use. I don't know why he titled his post what he did; but I was defending the teaching of crap, useful or not.
Perhaps I should have put my title in quotes. I was quoting what I often hear complaining students say. (I'm a teacher too). That, and I confess, I knew it would get people's attention better than saying "hey, want to solve a word problem?" I'm not sure if you read my "explanation" post at the top of this page. I thought I explained why I titled the thread as I did there.

I'm simply saying that our educational system (which includes me) needs to put more emphasis on the practical application of the skills we teach. Too often our students learn math, but never learn how to apply it. Worse, they don't recognize that problem solving means applying several different skills at a time. When students complain that they're learning a "bunch of crap they'll never use" maybe it's because of the way we're teaching it.

Also, I'm sure you're not actually teaching your students crap. Useful or otherwise. I believe what we teach has great value (well, most of it does, anyway). I think we do a poor job of demonstrating that value.
__________________
maycocksean is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 12:32 AM   #23
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
maycocksean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Most Important State in the Union
Posts: 4,882
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I'm all for word problems, but word problems are simply breaking down a bunch of useless info and organizing the useful info into regular old algebraic formulas. I guess I don't see what's more or less useful one way or the other. If you can't interpret a word problem, what use is memorizing and understanding formulas? But if you don't know the formulas, how would you ever solve a world problem?

I've always loved word problems b/c I'm rather good at figuring out what basic formula I need to use and then organizing the relevant data.
You hit the nail on the head. Figuruing out the basic formula and then organizing to solve. Unfortunately, many people are not so good at this (I've gotten better, but as a result of teaching for so many years). But I think it can be taught.
Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic

Also, I was originally confused by your post because in "real life situations" different people get things at different prices.
Not quite. In real life different people pay the same price for the same item (At least I hope so!. . .imagine I go in and buy a bag of chips for $3 bucks and then you go in and buy the same bag for $2.50. . I don't think so). In my scenario we are assuming all three customers bought the same style of carpet and tile. The only thing that differed was the amount of carpet and tile they purchased. (And in my "sister's" case, the amount she paid per square yard, since she got the discount for buying in bulk). One could argue--"But that's ridiculous--why would all three buy the exact same type of carpet and tile." But to me that is beside the point--it's avoiding the issue. So what if my "fictional" sister hadn't talked to anyone else about their purchases. She would still have left thinking she got a 10% discount when in fact her discount was closer to 4%.

Assuming she didn't talk to anyone else she would still have to know what the regular price was per square yard and then use that to figure out how much she should pay with a 10% discount.
__________________
maycocksean is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 01:15 AM   #24
Blue Crack Addict
 
Liesje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: In the dog house
Posts: 19,557
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean

Not quite. In real life different people pay the same price for the same item (At least I hope so!. . .imagine I go in and buy a bag of chips for $3 bucks and then you go in and buy the same bag for $2.50. . I don't think so).
I dunno, I guess I was too focused on the fact it was for a large remodelling project. I assumed it was a true situation so I wasn't trying to read between the lines.

My dad is a salesman, first paints and now lumber and veneer. Different clients definitely have access to different prices, depending on the size of their order, when they need it by, where they need it delivered, the client's status with the company, etc. Buying remodelling supplies in large quantities isn't quite like buying a bag of chips.
__________________
Liesje is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 02:02 AM   #25
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
lmjhitman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: tbtf
Posts: 4,317
Local Time: 09:34 AM
as a math teacher, i'm all for word problems as well. they tend to mirror real-life problems (math ones, anyway), and put the mathematical concepts we are trying to teach into context. a good word problem can combine seemingly unrelated concepts and demand that the students engage their higher-order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. and if used properly, they also encourage out-of-the-box thinking, as some students can come up with ingenious methods of finding solutions. i creative thinking in math class.

the difficulty is that classrooms are no longer as homogeneous as they once were. many children have difficulties with problem-solving due to a lack of reading comprehension skills. combining reading and math is intimidating and frustrating for these kids. i do teach kids to use a variety of strategies, many with acronyms so the kids can remember them, but all of them loosely based on the following strategy:

1) what information are you given?
2) what information do you need?
3) what operation, strategy, formula, etc., will you use?
4) show your work yada, yada, yada...

i also encourage the kids to work together to solve word problems. some really great moments for me, as a teacher, have been walking around the room and listening to children talking to each other about math while solving word problems.

all that having been said, i found it interesting that, as i read the original post, i got all excited and grabbed a pencil and paper and a calculator and jumped right in - only to find that the correct answer had been posted a few posts later. but that's ok! i had fun just working it out.

unfortunately (and i'm not trying to pick on anyone here), i think i'm one of the few girls who feel that way about math. i'm not sure if it's a sociocultural thing, but somewhere along the way we lose a lot of girls, in terms of their interest in mathematics. it's quite commonplace to hear girls not only say they don't like math, but also that they can't do math, and people just accept it because maybe 'girls shouldn't have to worry their pretty little heads about math.'

anyway, i guess i'm the only geek that would have been excited at your original title of 'hey, want to solve a word problem?'
__________________
lmjhitman is offline  
Old 04-22-2006, 06:09 AM   #26
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
maycocksean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Most Important State in the Union
Posts: 4,882
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic


My dad is a salesman, first paints and now lumber and veneer. Different clients definitely have access to different prices, depending on the size of their order, when they need it by, where they need it delivered, the client's status with the company, etc. Buying remodelling supplies in large quantities isn't quite like buying a bag of chips.
I understand. My point had less to do with how people shop for carpet, than it did about how our education system is failing to give people the real world skills they might need.
__________________
maycocksean is offline  
Old 04-22-2006, 06:13 AM   #27
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
maycocksean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Most Important State in the Union
Posts: 4,882
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by lmjhitman
as a math teacher, i'm all for word problems as well. they tend to mirror real-life problems (math ones, anyway), and put the mathematical concepts we are trying to teach into context. a good word problem can combine seemingly unrelated concepts and demand that the students engage their higher-order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. and if used properly, they also encourage out-of-the-box thinking, as some students can come up with ingenious methods of finding solutions. i creative thinking in math class.

the difficulty is that classrooms are no longer as homogeneous as they once were. many children have difficulties with problem-solving due to a lack of reading comprehension skills. combining reading and math is intimidating and frustrating for these kids.
How true! We should trade teaching strategies sometime.

I worry that there is real epidemic of intellectual laziness in America that expands far beyond the realm of mathematics.
__________________
maycocksean is offline  
Old 04-22-2006, 07:25 AM   #28
Rock n' Roll Doggie
 
BonosSaint's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 3,566
Local Time: 11:34 AM
I agree with maycocksean for a lot of his posts here. I wasn't absolutely mathematically inept, but never saw the point of the word problems--one, the stories in them were always boring as all hell,lol, and as he suggested, there was never going to be a time when I was going to be in that situation. I learned how to do them purely for class and then forgot all about them.

I was not intellectually lazy as much as I was intellectually uninterested.

I can see how an actual understanding of how word problems work combined with an understanding of WHY they work could be helpful in everyday situations, but they are not often explained that way. Same thing in literature classes: how is this writer using this technique in this book? The interesting question is why. You get somebody interested in why, you automatically increase their interest in how.

I don't teach, but I do train. I would always train how to do something, but I would also train the why philosophy behind it.
They understood what I was training better then. Of course, sometimes they forgot the how, lol, but they were better equipped to figure it out themselves.

My best teachers always taught me why.

I also enjoyed Imjhitman's method of having the kids work the problem out together--watching their logic at work, how they analyzed it and put it together, how one person's idea could jumpstart another's. Major adreneline rush.
__________________
BonosSaint is offline  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:37 PM   #29
Refugee
 
AliEnvy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 2,320
Local Time: 03:34 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean

I worry that there is real epidemic of intellectual laziness in America that expands far beyond the realm of mathematics.
I agree. I also think you're absolutely right that applied learning such as word problems for math make much more sense than some of the more traditional learning methods.

And why wouldn't there be an epidemic of intellectual laziness when there is an epidemic of high school dropouts and illiterate college students? And why don't people want to talk about it?

http://forum.interference.com/t157936.html
__________________
AliEnvy is offline  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:55 PM   #30
Blue Crack Addict
 
Liesje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: In the dog house
Posts: 19,557
Local Time: 10:34 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean


I understand. My point had less to do with how people shop for carpet, than it did about how our education system is failing to give people the real world skills they might need.
I understand. My point was that it was confusing when you didn't make this point initially and simply posted a math problem that really could be true, as it was posted.

However, word problem are REALLY important. I just did a hugelong one today, trying to bill all my housemates different amounts for different things based on what they said they paid for in house supplies this weekend
__________________

__________________
Liesje is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:34 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com