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Once more on Devlin (but not on teaching)

August 19, 2008 pm31 7:10 pm

Keith Devlin, mathematics commentator, wrote: that “Stopping teachers saying that multiplication is repeated addition” would be a good thing. He sharpened it (“I wished schoolteachers would stop telling pupils that multiplication is repeated addition“), and repeated it (“a plea to mathematics teachers to stop telling students that multiplication is repeated addition.”)

Now Josh has an interview with Devlin, and has opened up the comments section.

Denise at Let’s Play Math took it seriously, and wrote. The subsequent storm got covered by Denise, Mark, and many others, including me. Josh at TextSavvy wrote a bunch, but without allowing comments.

Now Josh has an interview with Devlin, and has opened up the comments section. I think the discussion there may become interesting.

For the record, I don’t question Devlin’s math (although there is wiggle room there), but his approach, once engaged with teachers, was irresponsibly inflammatory. And, for the record, the ‘error’ he picks on is certainly not universal.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Niederberger permalink
    August 28, 2008 pm31 11:58 pm 11:58 pm

    If you don’t question his math, its because you haven’t tried to pin him down and get his (yes, very stubborn and) absurd replies.

    When asked point blank whether, restricted to integers only, and under the condition that one can say that function F *is* G iff. for every integer x, F(x) = G(x), and we give F as the usual (if informal) “repeated-addition” definition, and “G” is his ethereally defined “multiplication” – well, under those conditions, can one not say that “multiplication” *is* “repeated-addition”. Well, guess what. Devlin says – no, absolutely false.

    Absurd.

  2. December 8, 2008 am31 9:36 am 9:36 am

    Nope.

    Still wrong.

    Merry Christmas!

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