Critical thinking in elementary mathematics: the tale of fractions and decimals


Associate Professor Peter Pang
Department of Mathematics
National University of Singapore


The aim of this workshop is to bring out two themes: (i) how critical thinking can be encouraged in elementary mathematics; and (ii) how the history of mathematics can inspire critical thinking. To do this, I will consider the example of fractions and decimals. At the upper primary and lower secondary levels, students are taught to convert fractions to decimals and vice versa. To many students, fractions and decimals are just two representations of the same numbers and it is not clear to them why you need two different representations. I would like to address this. In particular, I will discuss why fractions and decimals are different and also the advantages and deficiencies of each. I will refer to ways in which these deficiencies were dealt with in the history of mathematics.


This is intended to be a 3-hr workshop for upper primary/lower secondary teachers.


Saturday, 13 April 2002
9:00am – 12 noon


LT 34, Level 3, Block SOC 1
School of Computing, NUS

The venue has been changed to accommodate the overwhelming response

Registration Fee


Refreshments will be served after the workshop.