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# Joseph Austin As I recall, I "mastered" the material in Math course N when taking Math course N+1: I mastered Algebra

a in Trig, Trig in Calculus, calculus in Physics, etc. I think the opportunity to repeatedly use the material in applications is a good way to master what may have been sketchy on first exposure. My other concern would be, what do you consider "basic"? The more "advanced" my classes got, the more rigorously they covered the "basics". I'm assuming we are discussing a student who wants to advance in spite of a checkered past. I would let the student try the advanced level, then point them to resources to reinforce weak areas. Motivation can trump talent. Ben Woodford I am with Joseph Austin. Complicated ideas by default reinforce the basics. Many students, myself included, do not take well to memorization and tedious repetition. When they use the previously fuzzy concepts to solve a more complex problem, students can learn the importance of the basics they didn't grasp previously. I believe a student can solve equations without knowing negatives. In fact, the act of trying to solve an equation would necessitate the use of a subtraction or division by negative and therefore give the student a chance to discover the use (fullness) of negatives. As a facilitator we can suggest the use of the (-), as a symbol to perform the students required task. Isn't discovering a problem and inventing a method to achieve that task, the job/pride/joy of mathematics since the time of Pythagoras?

## BUTS AND IFS

Mister Jones The question's wording allows for many more yeses, but I get the jist, anyway. It fully depends on what "basic" Math concepts we're talking about. Many of the "basic" Mathematical concepts are prerequisites for fully understanding and applying (read: mastering) more complicated concepts. Multiplication is a basic concept, but Vertex Edge Graphs are more complicated. However, a student needs not be able to have strong computation skills in order to accurately read or "solve" a vertex Edge Map. What it boils down to is that Mathematically, like many other subjects, the bigger the base of the building, the higher the building can be built. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Bonnie Yelverton I agree with Mr. Jones that the wording forces a Yes. It should have been something like "have difficulty mastering more complicated topics." Some topics include more basic (by which I understand PreAlgebra) skills than others. But there are ratios everywhere, and if a student doesn't understand fractions, he's going to have trouble with similarity, etc. But opportunity, yes, because it doesn't mean he can't learn those skills. It's just that we teachers have to help him get them up to speed so he can go on, as soon as we figure it that is what's holding him back. (And the earlier teachers discover that, the better!) As someone said, students may have life experiences that distract right when they're supposed to be learning something important and basic. Irene Sawchyn The question is a loaded one - WHY are the basic skills weak? If the question was worded, "If a student cannot develop basic skills... then my answer would be NO. If the student has had poor training, then my answer would be YES, after they received better training. I see that middle- and high-school students who come from eastern Europe or Asia come 1-2 years ahead of their American peers in

math. How could that be? They just never hear the words "is the student "ready" for math (at some level)". I am the eternal optimist and believe that (almost) all "average" students should be able to master HS math if prepared well in grade school, and dedicate enough time to the work.