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Topic: Learning & Math: Everyday Situations (Lesh)
Replies: 22   Last Post: Oct 15, 1994 8:01 AM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 John Conway Posts: 2,238 Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Mathematics in Everyday Events
Posted: Aug 21, 1994 3:18 PM

don't agree with all of them, but I do remember from my own schooldays
how bored we all were on some occasions when supposedly practical
problems were discussed. It often meant merely that one had to
spend some time stripping off some superfluous words to get at the
real problem, which might then become more interesting (but often
didn't!).
I'm ABSOLUTELY SURE that Pythagoras' theorem was not "invented
to solve the practical problem of adding two squares"! What it
DOES solve, and probably was in some sense "invented to solve"
is the much more practical (and theoretical!) problem of finding
the distance between two points specified by rectangular coordinates.
(To make this sound more Greek, let's say between two points lying
on lines at right angles at known distances from the intersection
of those lines.)

If one's students are already interested in a problem, whether
for practical or theoretical reasons or just because it IS interesting,
then that's the time to teach the mathematics that can help to solve it.
So problems that arose from computer graphics might well motivate some
students very strongly to learn some elegant geometry. In fact I know
many instances where this has been the case.

I think it very much depends on who's in one's class. I worry,
for instance, about the possible side-effects of basing too much
motivation on certain sports, especially the traditionally
male-dominated ones like baseball and football, since the interests
of many girl students in particular may be slighted. Of course
the answer is to keep a careful watch to makes sure that every
student gets a fair proportion of topics that directly interest
himself or herself, but we're not all saints enough to ensure this!

John Conway

Date Subject Author
7/11/94 K. Ann Renninger
7/11/94 Jo Baranko
7/12/94 Ben Preddy
8/12/94 Emily Smith
8/13/94 Henry Picciotto
8/14/94 Steve Weimar
8/14/94 Steve Weimar
8/14/94 Lynn Stallings
8/15/94 Bob Hayden
8/16/94 Sarah Seastone
8/15/94 Henry Picciotto
8/19/94 Henri Picciotto
8/19/94 Lynn Stallings
8/19/94 Mortenson
8/19/94 Andre TOOM
8/20/94 Andre TOOM
8/20/94 Walter Whiteley
8/20/94 Andre TOOM
8/21/94 John Conway
8/21/94 Andre TOOM
8/22/94 Mortenson
8/22/94 Michael K. Rogers
10/15/94 Ben Preddy