Mathematics, a subject revered by some and feared by many, has recently found a curious battleground: social media. Platforms like Facebook are teeming with debates and discussions on how to solve specific math problems. One of the most contentious issues revolves around the correct order of operations, particularly involving multiplication and division. At the heart of this debate is the widespread misunderstanding of the acronym PEMDAS, which stands for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.
The PEMDAS Conundrum
PEMDAS is commonly taught as a method to remember the order of operations. However, many people misinterpret it, thinking that Multiplication (M) should always precede Division (D). This misconception leads to a variety of incorrect solutions to seemingly straightforward problems. In reality, multiplication and division are on the same hierarchical level in the order of operations and should be performed from left to right as they appear in the equation.
A Simple Example
Let’s consider a simple example to illustrate this point: \(8 \div 2\).
Written as a Fraction
One way to clarify this operation is to write it as a fraction:
When expressed this way, it becomes apparent that the division operation is a singular entity, akin to a fraction, and must be resolved first.
The Fear of Fractions
Yet, this brings us to another issue: the general fear or misunderstanding of fractions. Many people have a palpable apprehension towards fractions, often rooted in inadequate teaching methods. Fractions are a fundamental concept in mathematics, and a lack of understanding can lead to further confusion, especially in more complex problems.
The Role of Education
The issue often starts at the educational level. In many educational systems, the teaching of fractions has become increasingly formulaic, devoid of real-world applications or intuitive understanding. This gap in education…