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Why Learn Fractions?

Have you ever wondered why we need to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions? After all, don’t we use decimal notation for most real-life problems?

Division, Algebra, and Fractions

One main use of fractions is found in algebra. While most curricula present fractions as a way of describing partial quantities, it is also a way of describing division. 3/4 represents three quarters of a whole and what we would get if we divided three by four (3 ÷ 4 = 3/4).

Because it represents division, the fraction line basically replaces the division sign in algebra. It thus gives us a very helpful way of describing and working with consistencies in God’s creation, such as the Law of Gravity, which can be represented algebraically like this:  Notice the fraction line!

For a more simple example of algebra and fractions in action, consider this formula for finding the width of a rectangle if we know the length and the area:

w = width of a rectangle
l = length of a rectangle
A = area of a rectangle

Again, notice the fraction line!

The skills learned with fractions later help students use algebra to explore God’s creation and solve real-life problems.

More Fractions in Real Life

Fractions also apply in various non-algebraic real-life problems too. Below are some examples.

Measurement – If there’s 1/2 a yard of fabric on one bolt and 1/4 on another, how much yardage is there?
Music – A quarter note represents a quarter of a whole note.
Cooking – We might need to use a 1/4 cup three times to measure 3/4 cup, since the 3/4 cup measuring cup is in the dishwasher.
Produce sold by the pound – A quarter pound of apples at $1.99 a pound is how much?
Unit conversion – We use a ratio worth one (written as a fraction) when converting units (such as miles to kilometers–or dollars to a foreign currency).

The Bottom Line

Each aspect of math is a tool to help us describe God’s creation and serve Him. Fractions are no exception!

Note: For more thoughts on fractions, as well as other arithmetic concepts, and ideas on how to teach them from a biblical worldview (including lots of practical ideas you can use), see Revealing Arithmetic.

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