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Re: More /.{I->-1} craziness

On 1/17/2010 7:12 AM, David Park wrote:
> Students will never be learning Mathematica early and be reasonably
> proficient with it before they get to college? I beg to disagree. It will
> happen because as a tool for studying, developing and communicating
> technical material Mathematica is orders of magnitude better than existing
> practice. Students who don't learn it, and institutions that don't exploit
> it will just fall too far behind.
> The education problem is a difficult problem to be solved, but it can be
> solved and it will be solved one way or another.
> Tony, I wish I could convince you to take a more positive approach to
> Mathematica. It is not a perfect instrument but through the ages masterworks
> have been produced with imperfect instruments. It's shortcomings are not
> nearly as important as what you CAN do with it. Nor is it a static
> instrument.
> The problem for all of us is to keep learning how to use it. It does pay
> off.

Hear, hear.

My students come into university level Calculus I or II with no 
Mathematica experience, and learn to use it in my calculus class while 
learning calculus. It really only takes them a couple of weeks at the 
beginning of the semester to get up and running, and by the end of the 
semester all of my students are quite good at it. I haven't had to take 
things out of the curriculum to do this, either; we simply use 
Mathematica routinely in our work. Sometimes students come to see me a 
year or two or three later, and ask for help putting something  they are 
working on for some other class into Mathematica. Generally they have a 
very good start on it when they come to see me, and need just a little 
help with a few details.

Helen Read
University of Vermont

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