
Re: precise use of language
Posted:
May 25, 2000 1:20 PM



At 10:54 AM 0500 5/25/00, Jeff Stuart wrote this and more: > >You are correct that one of the difficulties that students >have with mathematics is that the language is formal >and precise rather than informal. Another difficulty is >that mathematics tends to use very complicated sentence >structures involving dependent clauses. In my generation, >and perhaps in yours, students were expected both to read >more and to read the "Classics" rather than contemporary >fiction. If you pick up a copy of "Jane Eyre", to cite an >example, you will probably be shocked by the length >and complexity of the sentences employed. An yet, >"Jane Eyre" was popular literature for the educated >classes for a long time.
On the same theme, Ralph Boas wrote in 1980: "Authors of textbooks need to remember that they are supposed to be addressing students, not the teachers... Contemporary prose style is simpler and more direct than the style of the 19th century except in textbooks of mathematics. ....I blame the authors of textbooks for not realizing that contemporary students speak a different language."
Jerry Uhl
  Jerry Uhl juhl@ncsa.uiuc.edu Professor of Mathematics, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign Member, Mathematical Sciences Education Board of National Research Council Calculus&Mathematica, Vector Calculus&Mathematica, DiffEq&Mathematica, Matrices,Geometry&Mathematica, NetMath
http://wwwcm.math.uiuc.edu , http://netmath.math.uiuc.edu, and http://matheverywhere.com
"Is it life, I ask, is it even prudence, To bore thyself and bore the students?"
. . . Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

