Monday, July 28, 2008

More on Devlin and the Nature of Multiplication

Mark Chu-Carroll

My previous post, "Devlin On Multiplication (or What is the meaning of "is"?)" engendered a great deal of discussion on several lists and blogs. However, primary credit for both serious and heated conversations about whether it's sacrilege to teach kids that "multiplication IS repeated addition," "repeated addition is a valid model for learning multiplication," "multiplication of integers can be effectively thought of as repeated addition," and many variations on this theme clearly goes to Professor Devlin himself. 

One particularly interesting conversation has arisen on a blog I enjoy reading on occasion, GOOD MATH, BAD MATH by Mark Chu-Carroll, a PhD in computer science. His July 25th, 2008 post, "Teaching Multiplication: Is it repeated addition?" has resulted in over 65  responses as of this writing and seems likely to continue to give rise to interesting comments about mathematics, its teaching, and much else. While I don't always agree with what Chu-Carroll has to say about mathematics education (not his main focus in any case), he's worth reading, and for the most part those who comment on his blog manage to refrain from the sort of sniping that dominates more politicized venues (e.g., 

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