Quick: what’s 500+500?


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!

Tags: ,

2 Responses to “Quick: what’s 500+500?”

  1. mbork Says:

    I’m reminded of one professor at my faculty. I used to TA to his lecture on basics on financial mathematics. He insisted on having students perform as much of the calculations as possible in memory, and told us that “it is a question of hygiene…”

  2. jd2718 Says:

    Stress, huh? I used to make little bits of money volunteering at psych labs at the university near where I grew up… stuff with memory, I think. I’d listen or read, then they’d amuse me, then I’d recall what I had heard or read. The amusement took the form of performing little math tasks… if they were trying to induce stress… tsk tsk… they should have measured that first.

    Imagine, Teacher: “who wants to count down from 483 by 7’s” Little 2718: “me me me!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: