Parentheses, please!

Posted on April 30, 2013


Yesterday I struggled helplessly to get a student to recognize that if Marge and Ed had their little election, and Marge got 93 more votes than Ed, and that there were a total of 587 votes, that “x + 93 = 587” would not get her the right answer.  She sailed into abject panic early on… we did manage to work through it but I’m pretty positive it didn’t stick.

Today a different student was in, having missed a week of classes, also in abject panic… asking the right questions got her over that, and she proceeded to those two-variable questions … without a hitch.   You see, we had an  X, and nestled in parentheses was the other (x + 93).

(Actually, I’m pretty sure I had tried that with the previous lady… but nonetheless, I’m going to bring in those parentheses earlier and more often when it makes sense — especially since it reinforces the idea that parentheses are a wrapper, not an operation… )

Posted in: math