[Edu-sig] Algebra 2

Anna Ravenscroft annaraven at gmail.com
Tue Oct 7 16:08:25 CEST 2008

2008/10/7 Matt K <matt.kameron at gmail.com>
> (3) *A practical question* - can any *high/middle-school *teachers give me
> clear pros/cons of using programming as a tool to teach algebra? I'm
> rewriting the Year 8 maths program for next year (13-14 year olds) and am
> considering trialling using Python. The students are the school are very
> tech-savvy and I wouldn't aim to teach them anything more than formulas
> really... formulas, basic IO and some ifs. Maybe (maybe) could do a basic
> for i in range(20) loop, but nothing more than that.

Not a teacher now, but...

My first experience programming was doing quadratic equations on punchcards.
I loved it. It allowed me to learn much more about the equations than if I
had to only do them by hand. (Note that I thought quadratic equations were
pretty kewl and used to do them for fun while babysitting...) I still find
myself turning to the computer to run an equation and see what it really
does when the physical mechanics of doing it by hand isn't in the way...

Unfortunately, I was left with the impression that you could *only* do
equations unless you went on to become a wizard. So there is a downside,
imho, to teaching programming only as part of the math classes. I wish I'd
had some in other classes (literature, for example) to help me realize I
could use programming more widely.

(Hope this was coherent; still working on my first cuppa joe.)

Walking through the water. Trying to get across.
Just like everybody else.
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