Unexpectedly Intriguing!
24 May 2019

If you were to ask an adult to pick the point where their education in math started to go off the rails, more often than not, they will identify the point where fractions made their first appearance, often around the fifth grade.

In the image below, we see how one fifth grade student in Maryland ran into some trouble describing why the given fractions and mixed numbers should be put in the order they put them, even though they got that part of the answer correct.

School Improvement in Maryland - Grade 5 Mathematics - Sample Student Responses - Source: http://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/assessments/k_8/grade5_math_sampleresponses.html

Meanwhile, if you were to ask when they began to find doing math hard, they will probably identify the point in time where instead of equals signs, they started seeing inequality symbols, which comes after fractions are introduced, where the combination with fractions can prove to be pretty problematic, if not outright traumatic.

The good news is that it's never too late to develop the intuition that applies to both concepts, if we draw on the wisdom of renown maths professor Israel Gelfand, as conveyed by Edward Frenkel in Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality:

"People think they don’t understand math, but it’s all about how you explain it to them. If you ask a drunkard what number is larger, 2/3 or 3/5, he won’t be able to tell you. But if you rephrase the question: what is better, 2 bottles of vodka for 3 people or 3 bottles of vodka for 5 people, he will tell you right away: 2 bottles for 3 people, of course."

 - Israel Gelfand

That might work for adults, but if you're dealing with kids, the same insight still works if you substitute the vodka with cookies. Which if you think about it, can open the door for algebra for the adult student if you can get them to make that abstract connection....

Labels: , ,

About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts

Stock Charts and News

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button


The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links

Useful Election Data
Charities We Support
Shopping Guides
Recommended Reading
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.