Brian Frank observes:

Lots of physics majors get by with strong algebra skills.

Same story in Calculus, of course. And you can substitute “calculator” for “algebra” to describe a whole mess of other math courses.

Shouldn’t we be ashamed of ourselves when we see this happening? Shouldn’t we be designing courses (and course sequences) in which this is not possible? Isn’t it time we (as a field) stopped living by last century’s textbooks, allowing students to skate by on last century’s skills?

Should we be designing courses that **require** critical thinking; courses that require students to really, deeply learn the material?

I know Brian’s working on that problem. Shouldn’t more of us be reading his work and taking his example?

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Interpreting an algorithm is a mathematical problem. Designing one is an even better mathematical problem. Performing one is a physiological problem.