January 25, 2008, - 1:09 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Figuring out how to cut ingredients to reduce the amount of a dish you are cooking for two instead of eight? Trying to figure out a third of the distance down a wall to figure where to place furniture?
You know how to do this if you have even a modicum of proficiency in fractions and division. But if your kids are taught math according to the principles of renowned University of Pennsylvania math professor Dennis DeTurck, they won’t be able to do these things without an electronic gizmo to think for them. DeTurck, also dean of the college of arts and sciences at Penn, wants to get rid of fractions. He also wants to banish division, square roots, and multiplication.
That’s right, say good-bye to real math. It’s a liberal’s outcome-based education wet dream. And it’s gaining acceptance as Profesor DeTurck gets ready to release a new book attacking traditional math taught in schools. Just as our students are failing even more versus the rest of the world in math and the inextricably-linked science, we need to make them more dumb and ignorant in those disciplines? Yes, if Dr. DeTurck gets his way. They can do it on a calculator on their cellphone, apparently. And he says they can use decimals, instead:
A few years ago, Dennis DeTurck, an award-winning professor of mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania, stood at an outdoor podium on campus and proclaimed, “Down with fractions!”
“Fractions have had their day, being useful for by-hand calculation,” DeTurck said as part of a 60-second lecture series. “But in this digital age, they’re as obsolete as Roman numerals are.” . . .
DeTurck is stirring the pot again, this time in a book scheduled to be published this year. Not only does he favor the teaching of decimals over fractions to elementary school students, he’s also taking on long division, the calculation of square roots and by-hand multiplication of long numbers. . . .
Questioning the wisdom of teaching fractions to young students doesn’t compute with people such as George Andrews, a professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University and president-elect of the American Mathematical Society. “All of this is absurd,” Andrews said. “No wonder mathematical achievements in the country are so abysmal.
“Arithmetic is the basic skill. . . . It’s fine to talk about it, but this is not a good pedagogy.” . . .
DeTurck does not want to abolish the teaching of fractions and long division altogether. He believes fractions are important for high-level mathematics and scientific research. But it could be that the study of fractions should be delayed until it can be understood, perhaps after a student learns calculus, he said. Long division has its uses, too, but maybe it doesn’t need to be taught as intensely.
Penn State mathematician Andrews says he believes DeTurck’s ideas will “unfortunately” gain traction because of the misguided belief that math education can somehow be made easy:
“Math is hard. The idea that somehow we’re going to make math just fun is just a dream.”
Glad to see that some academics don’t buy this intellectually bankrupt tripe.
Heaven help us, if there is ever another massive power outage as there was in 2003, and a cellphone calculator is unavailable when the battery wears out. Or what about a Katrina-like flood? If we turn out more ignoramuses who can’t divide or multiply in their heads or on paper, it could be fatal in a disaster. You cannot rely on machines to replace your intellect.
Dumbing America Down and Defining Math Down Will Be Our Death. Welcome to “Idiocracy.” Just like the movie.
Tags: American Mathematical Society, dean, Debbie Schlussel Figuring, Dennis DeTurck, Dennis DeTurck Wants, elementary school, George Andrews, math professor, Penn State mathematician, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, President, professor of mathematics, University of Pennsylvania