Long division is “a crucial skill necessary to understand more advanced math concepts,” writes The Instructivist, quoting The Role of Long Division in the K-12 Curriculum by David Klein and R. James Milgram.
The role of long division is not just to divide one rational number by another, but the algorithm itself contains the initial exposure of topics which become crucial in the core applications of mathematics in our society today. Following the introduction, we discuss methods for teaching long division in such a way that the underlying concepts can be understood by students. We then provide more details about the ways in which these concepts develop in later mathematics course, and why they are so important.
Understanding concepts can come in handy. What happens when people only know how to punch numbers in a calculator? Katie, an Instructivist reader, provided a link to a conversation between a phone customer and a number of customer reps who were unable to tell the difference betwen .02 cents and .02 dollars. Instructivist concludes:
What is absolutely hilarious is that at the end the rep (supervisor) declares that the difference between the customer’s correct math and the rep’s fuzzy math is a matter of opinion.