It’s the introduction of the “of” construct in mathematical/arithmetical expressions that is the problem. It is completely artificial and exists only in the strangely contorted OCD minds of postmodern maths teachers and educational authorities whose megalomania vastly exceeds their numeracy. In the substantially more real world inhabited by mathematicians and mathematically literate professionals, such forms are **NEVER** used. (Is that sufficient emphasis?) And they are **NEVER** used precisely because they are ambiguous, and ambiguity goes with maths the way cheese goes with barbed wire.

Yes, it is kind of difficult to imagine many real world problems where the "of" construct would be used, except perhaps in things like "only 12% of the 300 math educators could do elementary multiplication." :-)

Now I am lucky enough to work for an independent school, and we do not absolutely have to do whatever the education department wants, but we nevertheless try to remain fairly close to the official syllabus because the students will eventually have to pass a government exam. Also, as I have pointed out before, if one of our students go to another school, or we get students from other schools, it can create difficulties if the two schools followed too radically different syllabuses.

Hmm, reading around on the web, I now see a new twist in the tale. When I was in school, they told us the O in BODMAS stands for "of". But according to some pages, such as this one:

http://thehalltruth.com/tag/bodmas/it actually stands for orders - also known as exponents. I.e. BODMAS and BEDMAS are not two conflicting rules. They are the same thing. I.e. my grade 8 teacher was just an uneducated moron. As if the fact that he was also a sadistic psychopath wasn't bad enough.

One more data point in my theory that we need teachers who are educated in the subjects they teach, rather than in education, and that closing down the teachers' colleges might well have been the one rational thing the ANC did in its quest for better education. :-)

PS: I also get -12 on that thing with the long string of multiplied, subtracted and added 4s... :-)