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Topic: The Wisdom of Studying Calculus
Replies: 2   Last Post: Oct 10, 1994 2:31 PM

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Ronald Reiner

Posts: 1
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: The Wisdom of Studying Calculus
Posted: Oct 10, 1994 2:23 PM
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I'm new to this group and noticed the calculus discussion. I just wanted
to get my two cents worth in.

All of the previous discussions treated "calculus" as this monolithic
entity. There are many aspects of calculus and many different
perspectives of it. For most students, calculus is their first
meaningful introduction to the concepts of limits and continuity.
The ideas behind rates-of-change should be meaningful to many
people who don't go onto engineering. The idea of deriving/approximating
areas for regions bounded by curved lines is another aspect which
some laypeople might appreciate. How about maxima and minima. Many
people are intriqued by the fact that the square encompasses the most
area of all rectangles of the same perimeter.

I question whether we must teach all of "calculus" in order to convey
the true beauty of the structure behind it. My 11 year old was
recently given a problem with trying to figure the distance an object
falls over various periods of time. He was guided to do this in
one second intervals and was very much intriqued by the novelty
of the problem. He even grasped the fact that he was making an
approximation. I'm sure that other kids in the class felt the same way.

Thus, IMHO, I believe that some of the concepts behind calculus should
be taught and that these concepts should be brought to the attention
of children at the earliest possible age. However, the method of
presentation should be changed to meet the needs of students who
are not planning to go on in engineering, math, economics etc.

Ron Reiner

"A sieve will not hold water but it will hold another sieve."

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