“Show your work in the working column,” is something I often heard in mathematics classes in school, and read in question papers for assessments. This display of your calculation process and steps was meant as a proof of authenticity, for the teacher or examiner to make sure the final result had not simply been copied or guessed. Showing your work was an added obstacle to prove your actual mathematical knowledge. I won’t go so far as to say it tested understanding, because if you understood, there are many things you could manage without displaying exactly how mechanically you executed long division. I was never a mathematical prodigy, merely average, but even I remember times when I had to fill out the working column for bureaucratic requirements rather than because I needed to calculate the answer. Showing your work in scribbles at the side of the page was often just examination red tape you tolerated.

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