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Topic: Teaching Geometry - proofs
Replies: 13   Last Post: Jul 4, 2004 12:31 PM

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Bob Hesse

Posts: 13
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Teaching Geometry...again.
Posted: Apr 18, 1995 2:45 PM
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conway@math.Princeton.EDU (John Conway) wrote:
> On 14 Apr 1995, VVu7526185 wrote:

> > I'd like to know what you think: Should high school-level students
> > do proofs in the formal two-column format or should they just paragraph
> > it? I've discovered that students get really frustrated when they can't


> I DO think it has "something to do with the teaching system in
> schools". For instance, I learned only recently that geometry is only
> taught inside one particular year in most American schools. This seems
> so incredibly stupid to me that I can hardly take it in. Why is it so?
> Doesn't anyone realise that you forget what you don't use, that you
> need to learn some things slowly, that you need to integrate one

and then concluded with
> I don't want to go on, because I'll sound like those curmudgeons
> who claim that everything in their host country is worse than what it
> was where they came from, and I don't really feel that at all. But
> yes, I'm sure that some of the problems about learning mathematics
> in the USA have "something to do with the teaching system in schools".
> John Conway

(Excuse me for deleting most of the message, I just wanted people to
know where my questions and comments came from)

I've only heard pieces of how the mathematics is taught out of the
US and would be interested if you (or anyone) could give a detailed
summary of math education.

Please forgive me if this has already been discussed--I'll look
back in the archives later for references.

The two cents I wanted to add about education in the American system
is not about the teaching method, but the attitude. Going through
high school, I recall students, parents and even teachers saying
mathematics (and the natural sciences) was hard, and that they
hated mathematics. I cannot recall anyone saying that History or
Spanish, or Art were hard. Granted some friends said a certain
spanish teacher was tough, but never that the subject was difficult.

Ok maybe I'm comparing apples and oranges, but I really think
attitude is an important factor. If you are told that a certain
subject is very difficult and that only an elite few actually
understand it, would you want to study it after experiencing some
poor homework results? Unless you are very persistant, probably

I think we need to try and remove this attitude about mathematics
from our society. As long as mathematics is thought of as
something only an elite few can do, I don't believe test scores will
improve, regardless of any curriculum reform.

Bob Hesse

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