I was working on a scene today in which an adult admitted to a grade-schooler that in the real world, you’ll never need to use long division. It’s just something they force on kids to keep them from getting cocky after multiplication.
I nixed the joke because it felt kinda Full House. But it got me wondering if it was true. I doubt I use long division more than twice a year. Most of those times, it’s for want of a calculator, and halfway through the process, I realize I didn’t need an exact answer and should have just estimated.
Thus my question: Does anyone use long division on a regular basis?
Addition, subtraction, multiplication — they answer fundamental daily questions about how much, how often and how fast. Division is all about apportioning, figuring out how to split things up, which in the real world almost always involves some qualitative if not emotional decision-making. It’s all well and good to say that each child should get seven M&M’s, but since Ezekiel can’t eat chocolate, should he get an extra Jolly Rancher?
For the record, I’m not saying they should stop teaching long division. Not quite. Not without some study to show it won’t completely screw up later math education — which to my recollection, never involved long division.
Maybe I’m wrong, and there’s a non-teacher subset of the work force that actually uses long division. If so, write in. I’m curious to see who these Remainders are.