Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I hate it when smart people are wrong in public.

Ordinarily, this guy is correct, but this time he screws up:

"If you went to elementary school in the US, you almost certainly learned about the order of operations."

No, you didn't.

What he should have said was, "If your elementary school teacher was incompetent in math, she taught you this."Which is why we need to seriously rethink the training of teachers in this country.

"If you went to elementary school in the United States (or much of the rest of the world), you almost certainly learned about something boringly called the "order of operations"- a set of rules for whether or not you should do multiplication before addition or addition before subtraction to get the right answer on your math test.
Except, you don't always get the right answer, or even, one answer - I mean, is 8-2+1 equal to 5 or 7? and is 6/3/3 equal to two thirds or six? - the problem is, focusing on the order of operations can lead to ambiguity and obscures the real, underlying, and often beautiful mathematics."


  1. I can't count as high as the number of times I had to unteach this concept learned in elementary and middle school.