Hazards of Curriculum Shift

Posted on November 6, 2013

I wonder if things would have been more carefully executed if the course I’m helping students with had been more, um, radically changed.

Today’s problem:   Two planes leave simultaneously, one going south and one going east.   AFter the plane going east had gone 50 miles further than the plane going south, it was 8 miles apart.   How far had the plane flying due east flown?

Now, the students also dealt with imaginary numbers on this worksheet, so I can be generous and suggest to the student that it was an intentional setup to a: see if they were thinking (and realizing if one had flown 50 miles further than the other, they had to be more than 50 miles apart, so they could stop right there!), and/or b:  get them to solve the problem and get “i” in the answer — or, perhaps to get as far as “oh!  I checked the discriminant and there are no real solutions to this problem.”

Kindly, good people, do *not* pretend for one imaginary interval of a second that this has anything to do with “math in the real world,” though.

(Oh, and then there’s ALEKS and its “a recipe calls for 3 1/4 times as much milk as flour.   If you use 2 2/3 cups of milk, how much flour would you need?”    Yes, the students eventually figure out the ritual for setting up the proportion.   I would absolutely be willing to bet in four figures (and I’m not a gambling woman) that this. will. neither. be. remembered. nor. transferred.  in the long run. I’ll grant that, because it is *so* confusing, that the students get facile with dividing mixed fractions… because they have to do it so many times.   That *is* a good thing.   HOwever, the side effects of that particular medicine are particularly onerous.)