San Antonio, TX
Often the bane of elementary school students, long division tends to have a bad reputation. Hearing “I used to like math… until long division” is not uncommon. It is as if long division was out there on the playground, turning kids upside down and skating them down for lunch money. If only it were that simple. I am willing for young people to learn lessons about knuckleheads, brutes, and how to ask nicely when one has lost their lunch. But, to have future mathematicians lost to long division, it shan’t be. (Well… It may still happen, but I don’t like it.)
I like long division.
Long division is one of the first algorithms we learn. I suppose multi-digit multiplication is too, but long division really drives home the notion of a mathematical process. One really can get a lather, rinse, repeat experience with long division.
Long division is like knitting. I don’t knit, but I imagine it is similar except for the needles, yarn, darn sock, and so forth. Let me try again…
Long division is like dancing. It takes patience, poise, confidence,
a willingness to learn the steps. It’s a bit like this:
It may seem complicated, but how do we learn to dance? To sing? To knit? To play guitar? To perform long division?
PS. One of my all time favorite bands, Fugazi, has a song titled Long Division: “This is a parting, some separation, we lay in pieces, cracked to survive.”