Sunday 8 June 2014

Why maths counts - part two of three...

If you have engaged in the bearapocalypse scenario in the previous post, you may be interested in this clip. What makes the problem so darn  hard is that it requires one of two types of proportional reasoning.

Check out the baseball players having a go at the same problem.   Now if you want a challenge stop this clip before the explanation begins and work out how long it takes the two painters to paint the house.  Here is a tip - forget the way the guy does it at the end.  Do it your own way - draw pictures whatever.

By the way - the 'take me out to the ball game' song that intros and exits this clip makes me angry.  What were they thinking? It's like finger nails on a blackboard.  Doesn't last long though.

This type of thinking is called 'proportional reasoning'.  Lamon (2006) suggests that up to 90% of the adult population are NOT proportional thinkers.  If that's true, then it is a serious problem because to master algebra one needs to reason proportionally and mastering algebra is essential to almost every other mathematical domain.  

Here's the kicker though - you should have mastered proportional thinking by year 10/11.  Notice the age of the kid in the clip.  Yip, you should have learned it by age 12/13.  Actually, a growing group of researchers believe that the main cause of student math failure in high school is due to a lack of proportional reasoning.    If you don't learn it in intermediate School you won't learn it in high school.

Well, you can relax- nine out of ten adults act just like the baseball players in the clip (even in education).  

Have a go at the problem.  

I'll work through it in a day or so.  

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