The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

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

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
John Sheehan

Posts: 7
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Why trig?
Posted: Apr 2, 1997 1:29 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

Many great statements about why study mathematics in general
have come out of this discussion. But what about trig
in particular? If I were to teach trig, I imagine that the first day I would
start with a graph of something like day of year versus number of hours of
daylight. Then ask how is this different from graphs that you saw in algebra.
It is pretty obvious that this is a fundamentally different creature from
a polynomial function. Then segue into the idea of families of functions.
Like there are plants and animals, vertebrates and invertebrates, in mathematics
there are different kinds of functions. The purpose of trig is to study
one of these families. What questions do you want to know about any function?
Discuss what sorts of issues came up with the algebraic functions. Remember
the square root? It lead to irrational numbers. So do trig functions. They
are part of a large family called transcendental functions.

Throw in a little history. Mention some (diverse) applications. Tie it in to
what they already know. Give an idea about where this course leads to. That
to me is "motivation."

Then, roll up your sleeves and teach them some trig.

--John Sheehan

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.