These five imagined persons have accompanied me for some time. We've had a bunch of laughs and a few tears. I love them dearly. That said, I'd like to retire them in favor of a more culturally diverse crowd before I start teaching myself.

So far I'm thinking that Ahmed should be included. After that I'm in trouble.

(This is not a technical question about pedagogy, but I think it has some relevance to practitioners. I don't know of any other place where I'm likely to encounter someone who has already given this some consideration.)

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    $\begingroup$ Most likely in Canadian intermediate/secondary schools. $\endgroup$ – NiloCK Nov 11 '15 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ You could just use Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon. Which reminds me of the Alpher, Bethe, Gamov paper... $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Nov 11 '15 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ You may find the Social Security Administration's page for baby names of use (link)... $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Nov 11 '15 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ Is the question "What is a collection of names..." to which the answer could be "Ahmed, Bhagat, Carlos, Dimitrios, Edwina", or is the question "How can I generate a collection of names..." to which the answer could be "Go to this name-generator website..."? $\endgroup$ – shoover Nov 11 '15 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ I tend to use the names of students in the class. This delights them and engages them. The other advantage is that we don't get bogged down by unfamiliar names that they can't pronounce. $\endgroup$ – Amy B Nov 12 '15 at 0:30

I agree with Jessica B. You are giving names an importance they do not and should not have. Let's say you want to illustrate naïve set theory with examples. Just keep using different names as you go. Then you can use all sorts of names, using "alphabets that go in directions other that left-to-right, and languages that use other forms of writing."

But I disagree with her "Pedagogically that would be bad": the names we write between { } and or in Venn Diagrams are just markers which we recognize in a holistic manner. They could even be pictures or photos. But indeed only as long as there are only a few of them.

But then if you begin to need too many for them to be immediately distinguishable, you have a situation which calls for a better way and you can propose this as a problem to your students.


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