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Jul 16, 2011


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Hello: I taught math at the high sochol level and the college level for many years. I graduated from Math and Physics at U of T. I went through many curriculum changes over the years. One most notably was the New Math in the 60 s. This was a supposed response to the success of the Russian Sputnick. This was soon abandoned. It appears now that the powers that be at Queens Park (Ontario) have come up with another plan to revolutionize math teaching. I admire the stance you are taking. I listened to Rex Murphy today and was impressed with comments made by the Math Professor at the University of Winnipeg. One comment. The basic skills, add, subtract , multipy, divide were mentioned When speaking of the subtraction algorithm, the professor mentioned borrowing. With all due respect, I do wish that the teachers in the lower grades would teach the reverse additive method for subtraction.. With this, borrowing is never necessary. I was taught this method by my grade two teacher many yrars ago and have been forever grateful.. Thanks for your attention John Hudson[Hello John, yes things have gotten "interesting" in Ontario, though helpfully they have retained -- with reduced emphasis -- the standard algorithms. By "reverse additive method" I believe you are referring to a lovely variant on the standard subtraction algorithm in which one adds in one digit of the subtrahend instead of borrowing. It is one of the few widely used genuine variations. While it is easier to use many find it harder to see why this step "works" which may explain why the other is more common -- it's likely a pedagogical thing. But since it is only a minor variant it could easily be taught to capable students alongside the standard algorithm without undue confusion. Another lovely variant for subtraction is tens-complementation, which comes close to the way computers do arithmetic. But explaining that one requires a considerably more advanced concept of place value, which probably excludes it from elementary arithmetic. WISE Math (RC)]

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