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Fractional Needs

Chris Correa points to a 60-second lecture at the University of Pennsylvania in which the professor says that we should drop the teaching of fractions in elementary schools. His argument is that in the digital age, fractions are "as obsolete as Roman numerals", in addition to being confusing for young children.

For the most part, I actually agree with this guy. Kids still need to understand the concept of basic fractions – halves, quarters, thirds. But why does anyone need the ability to do page after page of computations with fractions? Other than the fact "it’s on the test". The time could be better spent learning any number of other important mathematical concepts. I know, I know – you need fractions to cook or build stuff. However, maybe, just maybe, using fractions should be something you learn when you actually need to use it.


  1. Tom Hoffman

    Lots of kids get stuck at dividing fractions, and due to the sequential way math is taught, and the verbal/procedural way it is taught, they may stay stuck on it for YEARS. And even the kids who get by it probably don’t understand dividing fractions anyhow.

  2. Chris C.

    …and many teachers don’t understand division of fractions, either.
    (see ‘Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics’ by Liping Ma)

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