Which Super Bowl is this, again, dear?

Another pop quiz!

What do the Queen of England, the Super Bowl and the United States Constitution have in common?

Answer: their titles use Roman numerals.
We’ve previously excoriated Common Core for taking five long years to complete its sequence in the addition and subtraction of whole numbers, when two years would suffice for a basic topic very few students misunderstand, but nowhere in the Standards does it introduce the quaint, but enduring practice of counting with Roman numerals.  One doesn’t ordinarily add or subtract Roman numerals, but converting between Arabic numbers and Roman numerals is a useful application of addition and subtraction, as well as offering an interesting history lesson, so why not include it, instead of subjecting students to drawn out exercises in rote procedure?

Think Roman numerals are too obvious?  Even the NFL lacks confidence in the public’s ability to read XLVII:

Can’t think of other reasons to understand Roman numerals other than being able to count?  What about tracing the history and sequence of the various Olympic Games, whose official titles will forever be out of sequence (the irony that the Olympics originated in Greece but are denominated with Roman numerals is not lost on us):

2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games
2014 Winter Paralympics, officially the XI Paralympic Winter Games
2016 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXI Olympiad
2016 Summer Paralympics, officially the XV Paralympic Games

Roman numerals can also be useful in posing problems of enumeration, which we define as how do you count to and determine the end, an often confusing aspect of what should be a simple process of counting.  For example, if the XV Paralympic Games will be held in 2016, in what year did the first Games take place?  (Errors in counting from beginning to end are sometimes referred to as "fencepost errors".)

We here at ccssimath.blogspot.com think knowing how to read and write Roman numerals is both interesting and practical, and should be taught.

We could continue, but we’ve got III or IV sandwich platters to order.

1 comment:

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