Why Study Upper-Level Math?
Date: 10/10/2001 at 20:46:03 From: Brandon Subject: Why Should we take upper level Math? My Pre-Calculus teacher ask me to write a paper about taking upper- level math courses. My question is, why DO we take Higher Math courses? Even my teacher says that we will not use them when we are out of school. I think you understand which classes I'm talking about: Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Trigonometry, that sort of thing. Thank you, Brandon J. Sharp
Date: 10/11/2001 at 10:43:44 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: Why Should we take upper level Math? Hi Brandon, Maybe the place to start is by asking yourself this question. Why are _you_ taking pre-calculus? Probably so you can take calculus. And why do you want to take calculus? Probably because you want to get a degree in something that will require you to understand calculus. And what kinds of degrees require you to understand calculus? Pretty much any kind of science or engineering, including quasi-sciences like economics. But there is also this: In Japan, if you want to study Zen Buddhism, you don't do it by talking about Zen Buddhism. You do it by learning to do something else, like arrange flowers, or perform a tea ceremony, or shoot arrows, or draw and strike with a sword. The activity provides a medium in which the lessons of Zen Buddhism can be explored and mastered. Similarly, if you want to learn to become more effective at solving problems, you don't do it by talking about solving problems. You do it by solving problems! And math, it turns out, is a particularly good medium for constructing and solving problems. Finally, there is a kind of beauty to mathematics that rivals the beauty that people find in paintings and sculptures and music. But this beauty doesn't really become apparent until you reach a certain level of proficiency in the subject. In that sense, making students take upper-level math courses is a way to try to expose them to that beauty, for fear that they won't be exposed to it without that kind of coercion. It's a little like forcing them to learn to play musical instruments, or participate in sports, whether they want to or not. Write back if you'd like to talk about this some more, or if you have any other questions. - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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