Archive for January 16th, 2009

Quick: what’s 500+500?

January 16, 2009

We’ve seen Joey discuss the value of long division (when wanting to portray someone who has just gotten bad news);  now enjoy a Friends excerpt where his addition skills get a work-out:

(You can find the entire scene here.)

Watching this video clip, I’m struck by a number of mutually tangential thoughts:

  • I see a LOT of my students pull out their calculators to do basic arithmetic these days (multiplying a two digit number by 2 or 3, or adding two 2-digit numbers).  I’m often surprised during a calculus quiz to see someone use a calculator to check their integer arithmetic (in combining like terms of an algebraic equation, say).
  • I’m heartened to hear laughter in the video, and wonder just how long it will be before American audiences see nothing uncomfortable or amusing in an adult needing a calculator to find 500+500.
  • I’m reminded that in laboratory studies of human responses to stress, one of the standard ways to ethically induce stress on test subjects is to have them perform multidigit subtraction in their head (e.g. count down from 483 by sevens) while the experimenter urges them to work more quickly.

But most of all, I’m reminded of how much I miss watching television, and wonder how I ever used to find the time to do it.  (Oh yeah, that’s right, that was life before parenthood.)

Thank you to Ionica at wiskundemeisjes, who brought this Friends scene to our attention, and suggested that we both post about it on our blogs simultaneously!