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ERIC Number: EJ1070877
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Exponentiation: A New Basic?
Davis, Brent
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v21 n1 p34-41 Aug 2015
For centuries, the basic operations of school mathematics have been identified as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Notably, these operations are "basic," not because they are foundational to mathematics knowledge, but because they were vital to a newly industrialized and market-driven economy several hundred years ago. It is easy to see why computational competence would be useful to a citizen of that era and to this era, as well. If anything, the need has been amplified in a number-dense world. However, it is not clear that these four operations are a sufficient set of basics today, given that some of the most pressing issues, such as population growth, greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, species decline, cultural change, debt increases, and so on, have strongly exponential characters. Prompted by this thought, the author wondered how he might structure a brief unit on exponentiation that would support students' understandings of the concept as a useful interpretive tool, rather than merely an opportunity for additional calculations or a study of symbolic manipulations. In this article, the author describes a week-long unit in an eighth-grade classroom that shows how instruction should extend beyond the four basic operations for better understanding of the realities and needs of today's world.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A