Date: Apr 2, 1997 11:15 AM
Author: hessnesh@HUGSE1.HARVARD.EDU
Subject: Re: Why trig?
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) 277-7678 (Home)

> Mathematics Dept | 257-4802 (Office)

> University of Kentucky | 257-4078 (Fax)

> Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | email: mtbb0@ms.uky.edu

>

>