> > You are teaching a group of skeptical high school students trigonometry and > they need to know "Why do we learn Trigonometry?" > > Unacceptable answers: > 1. It's the next unit in the book. > 2. The curriculum committee says you have to. > 3. It's on the SAT. > 4. Mathematicians find it "elegant." > 5. In case you ever need to know the height of a flag pole. > > Thank you. > > Sharon Hessney > email@example.com > > How about: 6. It's on all the calculators, so it must be important. 7. Trigonometry is important in engineering mathematics. 8. It is formalization of important fundamental ideas. 9. The law of cosines is a very nice generalization of the Pythagorean theorem. This is not something that falls under 4. only. It does, but it is a genuinely useful problem solving tool. 10. A lot of kids ask "What is this trigonometry stuff?" 11. It is a good place to use reasoning skills with a small number of identities to remember.
One can make similar negative statements about just about any topic.
I have no right to say any of this since I have not taught trigonometry for years. However I use it every day. Don -- Don Coleman | (606) 277-7678 (Home) Mathematics Dept | 257-4802 (Office) University of Kentucky | 257-4078 (Fax) Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org