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Re: if using Mathematica to solve an algebraic problem

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg109137] Re: if using Mathematica to solve an algebraic problem
  • From: Richard Fateman <fateman at cs.berkeley.edu>
  • Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2010 04:09:48 -0400 (EDT)

David Park wrote:
> You didn't initially tell us that these students were never again going to
> take any math or I suppose any technical subject that requires math.

I don't know what percentage of students take calculus (in high school) 
as their last college-level math class,
but I think it is substantial. 

If students in high school were taught "mathematica"  (whatever that 
might mean to a high-school student),
for many students it would be a skill that (a) they would probably not 
really acquire and (b) if they acquired it,
would not use, unless perhaps they took a calculus-with-mathematica 
course, and then after that, most
would not use calculus or mathematica.
>  So
> what's the point of your posting? It's a waste of time.
>   
My point is to air some skepticism about the perspective that "now that 
we have mathematica, everyone should
learn it because then educational objectives X, Y, Z would be easily 
achieved.".     Note that I am not objecting
to the notion that some people (researchers?) would benefit by learning 
something about some computer algebra system
or some programming language.



> And for those are going to study mathematical topics in college it is a
> reasonable suggestion that they learn Mathematica rather than calculus in
> secondary school. It is something that could at least be discussed.
>   
Sure. I'm discussing it.  I can think of many things I'd prefer.  And if 
there was a decision to teach computer programming,
you would still have to defend a choice of Mathematica as a vehicle for 
that material.


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