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Additionnot so easy

Author(s): PAUL A. HILAIRE

Source: The Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 12, No. 3 (MARCH 1965), pp. 207-211
Published by: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
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Accessed: 14-12-2017 05:07 UTC

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Addition - not so easy

PAUL A. HILAIRE State University, Buffalo, New York

Professor Hilaire is a member of the department of mathematics
at State University College.

J' dictionary defines addition as "the equivalent to the number property of all
of the separate sets, the addends. This
uniting of two or more numbers into one
sum." How does one "unite" numbers?concept of addition is often symbolized:
One cannot see number. Addition, ifN(A)+N(B)
so = N(A+B). N(A) is read:
defined, must be a mirage. the number property of set A. If A= {0,
+ , x} and B={-, #}, then NJO, +,
Number is the property of a set that
X}=3and N{-,#}=2.AUB={0, +,
tells "how many." If A= {0, + , x} and
B={-, V, #} then A^B. But N X,{0,-, #}, N{0, +, x, -, #}=5, and
+,x}=3andN {-, V, #}=3, and three
Does such symbolism confuse our think-
does equal three. Even if sets A and are
ing? Can addition be considered as the
disjoint sets, there is something about
them that is alike. This something, union
the of sets? If A= {0, +, x} and
"how many," is known as number. In B=the{0, +, /}, then AUB= {0, +, x, /} ;
N{0, +, x}=3, N{0, +, /}=3, and
second example given, both sets have the
N{0, +, x, /}=4, but 3+3 = 6. Does the
same number property. This particular
symbolism of set theory offer a more pre-
property has been symbolized as 3 and
given the name three. Every set that cise
can mechanism which will make the
teaching and understanding of addition
be placed in one-to-one correspondence
with either set A or set will also have easier?
this same number property, 3. This can If addition is a process, then can the
be illustrated: process perhaps be seen? When one puts
three blocks with two blocks, this process
{o + x} is seen. The five blocks can also be seen.
Is this synthesis addition? Is "putting
,} i * together" or "uniting" really addition? If
{a a } so, then how must one think of 3+2?
Does one put the numerals together thus,
{ / *} 3 2, or thus, 2? Addition is more than a
"putting together" process.
All these sets have the same number Addition is an abstraction. It cannot be
seen. It exists as a concept in the minds
property - three. How does one "unite"
such properties? of men, much like the concept, number.
Since it is an abstraction, it is difficult to
For some, addition might imply synthe-
reveal the meaning of addition. How then
sis, putting together. When one puts three
can addition be taught meaningfully? Can
blocks together with two blocks resulting
the discovery method be used? Perhaps
in five blocks, is this process addition?
not in a true sense, but can children be
Others consider addition a process by
which sets are combined to form a new led through experiences which should aid
set, the sum, whose number property isthem in generalizing underlying, recurring

March 1965 207

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patterns? By such a technique they might Children should be given experiences
conceive the process of addition. A se- which lead them to generalize several
quence of such experiences will be out- important properties of addition. First:
lined. It is hoped that you will criticize a+b = b+a, or the order in which num-
the procedure, for through such criticism bers are added makes no change in the
better methods for the presentation of sum. This is known as the commutative
addition may be found. property of addition. A child could be
Consider 3 to be associated with /// shown a card on which buttons are sewn
and 2 to be associated with //, then 3+2 as in Figure 1. The child could then be
would be associated with /// //. But 5 is
also associated with /////, so 3+2 = 5.
The /s in /// can be counted one, two,
three, continuing through the // as four,

five. This shows that the set associated
with 5 has as many elements as the set
associated with 3 together with the set 0
associated with 2.

Figure 1
/// //
given the opportunity to discover that
the two buttons and the three buttons
results in five buttons. If the card is then
<* < <*
turned around, the number of buttons has
not changed since none was removed nor
were more sewn to the card. The child is
The numbers represented by 3 and 2 are
now confronted with the situation pictured
the addends, the number represented by 5
in Figure 2. There are still five buttons.
is the sum. Addition is an outgrowth of
counting. The recognition of the combina-
tions without counting is the ultimate aim O 0
of good teaching. This requires drill,
meaningful practice. Children should be
encouraged to understand what takes m it
place when they add first by manipulating
concrete objects and then by proceeding
to the semi-concrete patterns and pictures,
before getting into the abstractions
Figure 2 such
as 3+2+4 = 9. Many teachers fail to give
children sufficient time to draw their
From own
such proceedings a child should be
generalizations about what addition is. able to generalize that 3+2 = 2+3 and
Learning to recognize that 3+2 = 5 is read that this property holds true for any two
as "three plus two equals five" does not numbers which are to be added. Second
assure one that the child knows or under- graders have been known to call this the
"communitative" property of addition.
stands the process of addition. Only if the
child has had the experience of joining After all, "communitative" is a good "five-
three blocks to two blocks and then count- dollar word" which could become a "ten-
ing them, and only if this is followed by dollar word" if spelled correctly and a
many other similar experiences with other "fifteen-dollar word" if properly defined in
objects, can he be led to understand the their own words. They do love to go home
meaning of 3+2 = 5. with big words.

208 The Arithmetic Teacher

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Second: (a+)+c=a+(6+c), or the of course, the reverse is true because of
manner of grouping the addends leads to
commutative property.
no change in the sum. (3+2) +4=3
+ (2+4). If three and two are added, giv-Example: 0+4 = 4 4+0 = 4
ing five, and then four is added to theirZero is the identity element for addition
sum, the result is nine; the same result can When it comes to adding numbers
be obtained by first adding two to four and
greater than ten, bundles of toothpicks
then finding the sum of six and three. Thisare helpful. For example:
is known as the associative property of addi-
tion. Manipulative materials such as lima 32+26+18=?
beans, etc., could be used to show this 32- >3 bundles of ten picks and two
principle (Figs. 3 and 4) . separate
26- >2 bundles of ten picks and six
18 - >1 bundle of ten picks and eight
ooo ocr> separate

lUl / / +1/ A child can be shown that the two pick

six picks, and eight picks results in o
ooooo bundle of ten picks and six separate. Th
'WV' ' bundle of ten added to 3 tens, 2 tens, an
1 ten makes 7 tens. No longer does o
say, "put down the six and carry on
Figure 3 The child is taught that there is a ten
be added to the other tens. He also is led
to generalize that ones are being added to
ones and tens to tens. Having had such
boo 5o y experiences with manipulative materials,
the child may then be ready for illustra-
ill ' V,l tions, such as those shown, in Figures 5
O C9 through 7.
When working with children, it is poor
' ' ' , / / / policy for one to say, "put down the three

Figure 4
32- 3O + 2
Third: When working with denominate
26 - 20 +6
numbers such as 3 feet, 2 yards, and 6 48-40 +8
oranges, only like things can be added.
90 +16
3ft.+5ft. = 8ft.
3 yd. +2 oranges (cannot be added)
3 apples +6 peaches (9 pieces of fruit,
but not a specified number of apples or 100 +6
of peaches)

Fourth: When zero is added to a number,

the result is the same as the number itself;
Figure 5

March 1965 209

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and carry one." Truly, a one is not car-
NN I ried, but something does happen to 1 ten.
U S Second, units are not added to tens. Such
A E carelessness leads to wrong concepts and
D S a poor understanding of mathematics.
_S What does one do for the child who
learns faster? Surely one should not give
4 2 6 him more of the same thing. Why not
345 deepen his knowledge? Teach double-
column addition (Fig. 8) .
_2___ The child could also be taught ways to
check addition. One check is to add in re-
I3 verse order.

II 8 Starting from top 8+2+5= 15


j__4 5 Starting from bottom 5+2+8= 15

1523 This is true because of a broad interpreta-

tion of the commutative and associative
Figure 6
principles of addition.
Another common method of checking
addition is known as "casting out nines"
H 1 U or "excess of nines." Children are often
asked to experiment with this concept in
g s I
s different number bases. They soon learn

that one less than the radix is to be "cast
out." Another interesting observation is
that the number 425 is equivalent to 47
" nines with an excess of two. This excess
of two can be found by adding the digits.
2 6 4 4+2+5=11, then 1+1 = 2. In addition
the total of the excesses in the addends
J_3_5_ (numbers being added) equals the excess

|| in the sum (answer). See Figure 9.

Figure 7
426 -*4+2 + 6-* 12 , I + 2 -* 3
347 -* 3 +4+7-^14, If 4^*5
1 52-- I + S + 2

925 -9 4-
Double-column addition
Figure 9
Starting from top,
One can easily see that this is not a proof
64 64+30-* 94 for addition. If the digits were reversed,
32 (30+2) 94+2 -> 96 for example, from 925 to 295, this incor-
45 (40+5) 96+40-6 rect sum would still check. Also, if two
+23 (20+3) 136+5 ->141 balancing errors were made, for example,
from 925 to 934, this incorrect sum would
164 161+3 ->164 also check. Nevertheless, checking by
Figure 8 casting out nines is used because the

210 The Arithmetic Teacher

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456 4- 279 chance of such errors is minimal.
STEPS The bright child might be interested in
12 3 4 5 the historical approach to mathematics.
Why not let him investigate the scratch
7 7 73
1 X /' XX method of addition (Fig. 10)?
6 62 $2. fas &S There is a lot for a child to learn about
Sb tfib 4fi6 4U ?*4> addition. One must teach more than
19 9 Z*9 tf tfj
reading the fact that 3+2=5. Addition
not easy to teach. It must be taught wit
Figure 10 meaning.

In answer to your questions-

{Continued from page 203)

is very sophisticated. It contributes nothing, or

indeed very little, to the concept of a set; it is
unnecessary and unnatural, and it need not and
[XXX X) should not be introduced until we study sets per
se, perhaps in junior or senior high school.
Note also that in our representation each
puzzle, each pupil, and each member, or each
Again, consider the class of pupils. The mem-
element of the set is represented by one cross or
bers of this class can be represented by dots en-
one dot or one point. This means that
closed by a rectangle. Again, we can label the
a) one element of a set cannot be represented
by two points, and
b) one point in a representation cannot sig-
nify two elements.
However, the position or order of the points is
immaterial in designating the set. Children can

change their seats in any order, and they still

remain the same set of pupils. It must also be

stressed that the point represents a member,
rectangleand it A3does not represent
to any accoutrement
show that
A, of all may belong to thethird
the member. This method of gr
ing a representation helps to identify
number of an element suc
as an
finally entity - as one or a single thing - of a set.the
for a Once this meaning and representation
collection, aof a classet
and the has been attained, we have
word all the necessary
member, toolsetc.for using sets to develop
We the ideas of map-fin
exhibit a ping,
set equivalent sets,
of and the number
elemeof a set as
points. a property of all equivalent sets, which indi-
cates the numerosity or manyness of a set.
Ordering of the numbers, counting, and the
fundamental operations on number can be de-
veloped by abstracting them as corresponding
operations on disjoint sets, that is, sets that
have no members in common. How to do all this
has been described to some extent in a previous
article by the author.3
Howard F. Fehr
Teachers College
Note well that the symbolism using braces, Columbia University
* "Modern mathematics and good pedagogy," Thb Arith-
metic Tbachub, X (November, 1963), 402-411.

March 1966 211

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