Negative integers

Posted on May 2, 2011


So I’m reading this pretty neat blog over at  and it states that teachers are fond of introducing integers with a number line, but then when you get to subtracting negatives, they resort to “well, here’s the rule,” and I have witnessed this rather often myself.   It talks about the cognitive overload involved when you’ve got to do the opposite of the opposite, and suggests that teaching the “difference” concept — the visual thing that really has made the light switch go on for some of my guys — is much better than teaching the rules. (I would maintain that at least for my folks, some of them really are much better tuned to rules than patterns…  ideally I want them to see both, so my preference would be to teach to what’s comfy first, then make the bridge to the other.)

I did have a gag moment when I realized that all the links in the text were to ads… stupid ads.   Barf.

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