“nix the tricks” — how do we define trick?

Posted on July 24, 2017


I subscribed to MooMooMath and got an update that included this lesson on binomial expansion — raising binomials to assorted powers .    Linking to the one with the title including Pascal’s Triangle 🙂

Since ALEKS doesn’t include it, it doesn’t pertain directly to my life but the “what parts of ‘algebra’ should be required?”  is another question (being raised again here — but at least the equity issues are being raised)….  I also never learned it.  (Oh, and “what do we need algebra for?” is discussed here )

She outlines the “long way” for the second and third powers, and then brings in Pascal’s Triangle.

What’s notable to me is that she writes out steps that are “unnecessary.”   The power progression begins with x^n and goes down to x^0 — and she doesn’t dismiss that and not write anything, but writes it down and reminds that it’s one.

Things are written down systematically — so a student who doesn’t have a whiz-bang working memory can work through fairly quickly (a whole lot more facilely than using the distributive property again and again) and check things and get them right.

My first thought was that, in a way, the short cuts (just cutting to the triangle and doing things in your head) were a “trick” that the teacher should nix and, instead, be sure to outline these details.   Or, is her outlined system a “trick?”  On the third hand,   raising a binomial to the Nth power is … a trick, of sorts.   It’s a thing you’re supposed to know how to do.   That’s back to “another question,” though, and … this is going to be a Production week.   Two videos of my own to upload…