# Frazz by Jef Mallett for December 11, 2014

Comment Policy
1. ##### KZ71about 7 years ago

Mrs. Olsen can’t see the disconnect… and those Far Side lenses ain’t gonna help.

Hi,I’m a sixth grade teacher in Santa Rosa, California. Just today I was telling my class that the reason we’re working with models of dividing fractions is because that leads to understanding the math ( this is not the first time we’ve talked about this). Most of them know the algorithm, though I have not used it at all this year so far. They’re itching to flip the divisor and multiply, but we won’t do that for another couple days. I tell them that that’s how I was taught division of fractions, and I didn’t understand why it worked or what it meant to divide by a fraction. The way most teachers at my school are teaching now is to focus on the understanding. Once you understand, you can choose the formula you need and get a sense of whether the answer makes sense or not. I’ll be telling them what you said about the understanding clicking with real examples, and how memorizing the rules is not the whole story – it’s the deeper concepts that we want them to figure out, explore, and make a part of their thinking.Thank you for sharing your experience!

3. ##### HonoBearabout 7 years ago

Math was easy, back when I was in school. Has it changed?

4. ##### GoBlueabout 7 years ago

I had the same vision problem in college calculus.. I kept asking the prof what use in life would I have of being able to graph that parabola.. 40 years later, I still have not had to graph one. :) I’m sure that engineers and such have some use for it, but why force a medical technologist to take a class that has no use in the field? I’d rather spend the time and money on a class that taught me something useful.

5. ##### mblase75about 7 years ago

The problem with learning math is simply that it’s not how the human brain is (usually) designed to work. Our brains are hardwired for things like spoken language, music and pattern recognition, but numbers beyond one-two-three and rigid logic are simply not useful survival traits, evolutionarily speaking.

6. ##### puddleglum1066about 7 years ago

To all those who say there’s no point in learning math beyond simple arithmetic unless you’re planning to be a scientist or an engineer, I can only say…

…the gambling industry thanks you.

Wow! Mrs Olsen is brilliant and I am very glad for today’s comic. Frazz not “seeing the point” is a flaw of HIS in my opinion. The reality is that whether or not you think you will “never use this math” in your real life…. is NOT THE POINT of learning math. Students who learn math and the conceptualization behind mathematics BENEFIT from being able to think and reason more broadly, and are able to view the world less myopically than they otherwise would. That is the “point” behind learning math for most of us after we complete the basics.

blah!

9. ##### hippogriffabout 7 years ago

Nabuquduriuzhur: I experienced your point. I was sick the week the class took up factoring. Returning, I asked the teacher what is was. She replied, “Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up” and dismissed me from her presence. I think it has something to do with what times what equals the number under consideration, but short of trial and error, I don’t know how to do it, what does one do with prime numbers, or why it is done at all. As a result, I have no effective ability in math, which I think I might have enjoyed..As for what use it is for those not using math in daily life, first, as the Numbers TV show stated, “We use it every day.”; second, jobs get outmoded quite rapidly these days, and any knowledge is going to make it easier to requalify for another job; and third, we are supposedly intelligent animals and know lege should be treasured for its own value.

10. ##### unca jimabout 7 years ago

All my HS math courses were taught by 22 and 30 y/o females who taught by rote and memorization of ‘the rules’… nothing ‘applied’ or physical demonstration, leaving us boys bomfozzled as to what the heck they were trying to tell us. The girls seemed to ‘get it’ right off.. Later, in the Army Advanced Electronics school, I was suddenly flummoxed by the ton of math thrown at me and was falling behind. I found a civilian male tutor who taught me all the math I REALLY should have learned in HS who had me up to speed in just a week and a half. It’s all in ‘spatial concepts’ and like it or not, the wiring difference between the female brain and male circuitry use COMPLETELY different schematics and programming, thank gawd for THAT !!

11. ##### dzw3030about 7 years ago

Way back when, I was in tech school and my slide rule body had a blank area under the slide. That’s where I penciled in all the formulas I had trouble remembering. All that slipping & sliding during tests was me retrieving formula so I could solve problems on paper. It worked but my math skills were always marginal. (OK, pathetic)

12. ##### Scott Sabout 7 years ago

I thought his name was Frazwell.

13. ##### Carl Rabout 7 years ago

I was a TA in Operations Research in Graduate School, years ago. I found that people didn’t have any trouble understanding the concepts, and they didn’t have any trouble following the steps to solve problems. The problem they had was math phobia. If I wrote something on the board using math notation, their eyes glazed over, and they concluded that it was beyond their comprehension when it wasn’t difficult at all. I have always believed that early on they should have been exposed to the notations, and told that the notation is no big deal. Instead the real math notation is hidden from them, and they are given the idea that it is somehow beyond them.

Yes. Music is mathematic. Often musicians excell in math. Dave Brubeck was a mathematician.

15. ##### Varnesabout 7 years ago

Yes, there is an element of math in music. However, when used in music nowadays it’s almost always to actually break the rules…..Can’t get away with that in math……In algebra, right out of the shute, the order of operations rules get ya….

16. ##### rgcviperabout 7 years ago

Personally, just about all I know about math is that 2 + 2 = 22. (Or at least, it should be …)

17. ##### hippogriffabout 7 years ago

comicsssfan: Thanks for the first indication that my deductions about factoring might be right, including that there might be something more efficient than trial and error. However, considering the absence was in the 1946-7 school year, it may be a bit late!