Summary: Fridays at the University of Guelph, five minutes before the end of class, I say, "Pens
down, books closed, it's "Friday Special" time!" Then I show on screen an article or
cartoon or letter or...something that has to do with math (well, usually), the "real
world"(well, most often), and has absolutely nothing to do with class, assignments, or
tests (always!) It is math for fun. Often, it is some flagrant example of how the media
abuse math. I hope you use some of these. Make them "Monday Morning" specials or
"We need a break!" specials. If one falls flat, blame me. If it works, you take the credit.
It is January 3, 2007 as I write and March something, 2007 as you read. A belated Happy
New Year to you all.
This Friday Special, I would like to share an experience I had when, "several years ago"
(okay, 1980!), I was teaching a grade 9 class at Parkside High School in Dundas,
Joel was working on this two-part question.
1. Solve for x in each of the following:
(a) 3x 6 = 32 (b) 3x 12 = 32
Here was Joel's COMPLETE solution.
(a) x = 8 (b) There is no solution.
Now when I looked over his work, instead of just saying, "WRONG, WRONG,
WRONG!", I asked Joel to explain how he arrived at his answers. It turns out that he had