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Topic: Why trig?
Replies: 21   Last Post: Apr 3, 1997 4:17 PM

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Posts: 221
Registered: 12/4/04
Re: Why trig?
Posted: Mar 31, 1997 1:16 PM
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> 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

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 Coleman | (606) 277-7678 (Home)
Mathematics Dept | 257-4802 (Office)
University of Kentucky | 257-4078 (Fax)
Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | email:

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