The other day, someone came to me with the deep desire to learn the basics of algebra and he believed it would be best, not to get his information for say...a book, but rather a student.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

So, I thought it would be evil not to help him. I started off with basic arithmetic put into algebraic logic.

I.E. x+5=6 or x+7=6

and then, I got to exponents.

I gave him the problem: [tex]x^{2}=9[/tex]

He asked me what the super script '2' truly meant.

Now, I have always thought of [tex]x^{2}[/tex] as a two dimensional representation of a one dimensional quantity (I.E. a one dimensional line with the length of x, and to square x is to extent it equally into the second dimension or...to make it a square). I tried to explain this to him, and that to find the value of x, you just had to think of the nine as a two dimensional quantity, and represent it as a one dimensional line.

He looked to perplexed no matter how much I tried to explain it... I tried to tell him just to think of it in terms of blocks...still nothing.

Can anyone give me a better way to explain this?

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# Explaining basic mathematics to a math illiterate

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