Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Kettles Count

I watched a superb scene from an old Ma and Pa Kettle film the other day. I can't even tell you which of their films it was, but the scene began with a man telling them that dividing some fund of money - it amounted to 25% of the total - would give each of the five family members 5%. However, Pa insisted that dividing 25 by 5 would result in 14, and proceeded to prove it. The man insisted he was wrong and showed Pa first how to divide in the usual way (5 into 25 is 5) and then how 5 times 5 was 25. Each time Pa showed him how the answer was actually 14. And then Ma Kettle got in on the act.

The whole thing is done at a whizz bang speed, and leaves you scratching your head at the way in which the sums are worked out. Just wonderful. If you've got Math Questions you couldn't do better than get Ma and Pa Kettle to help you out - especially if you wanted to make your share increase!

Actually, if you're really stuck for help there are now an increasing number of online places that can give you tutoring in anything from prime numbers to linear equations. I was reading just today how there's now concern that soon Universities won't be doing very much teaching at all; everything you need to make sense of all manner of subjects will be online. This is the equivalent in the newspaper business of big newspapers going under because so much news is available online (usually for free).

For instance, while I know what algebra equations are, having done them in the past at school and later as an adult, I'm not entirely sure what pre algebra is (some kind of historic period, like pre-Triassic?) or what standard form is. But these things are all on the Net, carefully explained.

These explanations, though helpful, aren't quite as much fun as Ma and Pa Kettle's maths....they really rock.

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