Message #9 Posted by Martin Pinckney on 18 Feb 2008, 2:12 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by designnut
Don, I think my problem, as remembered at this distance, was that X and Y had no connection with reality. secant and cosecant had no meaning to me, in spite of the definitions. How can you expect someone to enthusiastically grasp what might ss well be tolkien philosophy? If it serves no direct function in our lives how can we respect or value it? I have solved many real problems and have no interest in contrived problems. Should we continue to put effort into teaching a subject with no connection to reality for most of todays students? Would it not be more useful to teach TVM or subjects more grounded in daily problems than algebra and trig?
Sam the non-conformist
One man's "contrived" problem is another man's "real" problem. I remember the algebra or trig problems in school being challenging and fun. As it happened, I went into a field of work where I use algebra and trig on almost a daily basis, but not calculus and analytical geometry. However, I still find these subjects interesting. I am aware that "most" people do not.
IMO, there is as much importance to knowing fundamental mathematical concepts, chemistry, physics, biology, etc. as there is in knowing history, language, literature, and the arts, to a complete, well-rounded, basic education. How many kids these days are keen on the latter subjects, for that matter?
One must be willing to stretch one's mind a little to learn why X and Y are used, for example, or to see that the concepts involved in solving the "Train A and Train B" type of problem can be extended to other kinds of problems.
It takes a motivated student as much as a talented teacher. My personal observations [and through my wife's eyes (a teacher)] is that there are just as many talented teachers today as when I came up. If there are fewer motivated students, it is largely a function of the changing culture. Those that are not motivated will fill the ranks of "service workers".