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Re: Why trig?
Posted:
Apr 2, 1997 11:15 AM


Great list. I thank all who have sent suggestions. I am thinking of copying all of your suggestions and using this as a basis to discussion with my students.
Sharon Hessney Fenway Middle College High School
On Mon, 31 Mar 1997, Don Coleman wrote:
> > > > 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 > >



