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Re: Why trig?
Posted:
Mar 31, 1997 1:16 PM


> > 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 > hessnesh@hugse1.harvard.edu > > 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) 2777678 (Home) Mathematics Dept  2574802 (Office) University of Kentucky  2574078 (Fax) Lexington, KY 405060027  email: mtbb0@ms.uky.edu



