Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

27Jul/101

Math Myths

Don Cohen, AKA The Mathman, has been helping children of all ages to learn Math for 34 years. He has a CDROM book, Calculus By and For Young People, which he sells via his site.

I found these "Math Myths" from his site to be quite interesting:

  1. You can't take 7 from 3.
  2. When you multiply, the answer is bigger.
  3. You have to add from right to left.
  4. When you subtract the result is smaller.
  5. Fractions are small numbers.
  6. There's only one way to do something.
  7. When you add the result is bigger.
  8. When you divide the result is smaller.
  9. I can't do it unless someone tells me how to do it.
  10. Math is hard and only a few people can do it.
  11. You have to know everything about whole numbers before you can do fractions.
  12. You have to know algebra before you can learn about calculus.

How many of these "facts" do we take for granted, even though they're not true?

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  1. Five Vintage Math Myths:

    1. Math is easy! (most likely only to math teachers and those with little knowledge of math)

    2. Without basic algebra, you’ll lead a life of poverty or misery! (Why is it that most A-students eventually work for the C-students?)

    3. With math you can [practically or apparently] do anything! (not if you lack intuition and imagination and common sense and ….)

    4. If you’re good in math you’re a logical or rational person! (why are many Asians with good grades in math play lotteries, read “horrorscope,” consult geomancers, give offerings to idols, …?)

    5. Asians or Chinese are good in math! (try asking students or even their teachers to name any dead or alive famous Chinese mathematician.)

    K C Yan (@MathPlus)


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