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Topic: a plea
Replies: 15   Last Post: Jun 4, 1998 10:09 AM

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Geoff Hagopian

Posts: 174
Registered: 12/4/04
a plea
Posted: May 26, 1998 12:26 PM
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Dear ap-ers,

I would like to make a simple plea to high schools: don't offer ap
classes at the expense of offering a full complement of normal, high
quality hs courses (precalc, etc.). The incoming freshman I see are
more and more often victims of schools where, for whatever reason,
precalc is not encouraged or even offered, but you can take ap calc. Or
precalc is taught by the coach abc (who had a math class once) but the
real math teacher is teaching ap calc.

I recently asked one such student, "what is (cosx)^2 + (sinx)^2?" Eager
to demonstrate what he'd learned about derivatives he said,
"-(sinx)^2+(cosx)^2." Instead of being ready for calculus, as he surely
would be if he'd taken a good precalc, he needs at least one semester of
remediation (probably two) and he has misshapen notions that will hobble
him when he does take the calculus course.

There are many marvelous topics that can be covered in precalc,
parametric and polar equations, iterative methods, programming - why
forego these fundamental concepts for a cheap thrill status trip? If a
student has "done" precalc, but may not be ready for a sophisticated
calculus course, give her more - combinatorics, probability and
statistics, finite math - pour it on.

Geoff Hagopian
Palm Desert, CA

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