Questions tagged [secondary-education]

For questions about teaching mathematics in secondary education (in most countries approx. ages 10-18).

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93
votes
35answers
19k views

What female mathematician can I introduce to my High School students?

I enjoy talking about Pythagoras when I teach the Pythagorean theorem. I sometimes mention Descartes when introducing Cartesian coordinates. And Leibniz and Newton are mentioned in many calculus ...
72
votes
20answers
18k views

Impressive common misleading interpretations in statistics to make students aware of

Statistics are used everywhere; politicians, companies, etc. argue with the help of statistics. Since calculations are needed for the interpretation of statistics, such things should be taught in ...
50
votes
14answers
11k views

How can we help students learn how to read their textbook?

In most secondary and early undergraduate courses, students purchase expensive and carefully-written textbooks. These textbooks contain, roughly, three things: Exercises and Answers Reference ...
46
votes
3answers
6k views

How do blind people learn mathematics?

I am interested in how blind people learn mathematics at any level, but particularly before college. Math is often taught using a lot of visualization; how does this work with blind people? My ...
42
votes
37answers
17k views

Real-world examples of more “obscure” geometric figures

As part of my secondary geometry class I like to hook students by presenting real-world examples (usually images I find online or have taken myself) of different geometric shapes from real life. For ...
40
votes
14answers
16k views

Why is learning mathematics compulsory?

In most education systems, Mathematics is a compulsory subject from primary school all the way to the start of university. A common reason given is that essential concepts like addition and ...
37
votes
5answers
2k views

Effects of early study of advanced books

Context: There was recently a question on Math.SE: Inferior to Other Younger and Brighter Kids which starts as follows: I'm a high school student (Junior/Grade 11) and I'm currently studying ...
35
votes
17answers
10k views

Why are triangles so prevalent in high school geometry?

A colleague and I recently discussed what we call the "Triangle Trap." High school geometry covers a very large unit reflecting the common core: Classifying Triangles Triangle Angle Properties ...
35
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I help a student who has a “wrong” kind of enthusiasm?

Alice (not real name) is a student in one of my Math 100 (calculus) classes. It's a course offered by my college as a dual credit course at a high school, so the whole class is about 17/18 years old, ...
32
votes
8answers
7k views

Helping students who make no effort to figure things out for themselves

When I was a student, it was very much frowned upon to ask for help without making an effort, like how math.stackexchange.com operates (for the most part). In the high school where I work, it is ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

Allowing nonstandard mathematical language and/or notation

How important is enforcing standard mathematical language and/or notation? Today, I was questioned by a writing instructor as to how vital it is to correct students when they explain something using ...
31
votes
23answers
6k views

Quote to show students don't have to fear making mistakes

I have some high school students which seem to be afraid of making mistakes. They are hesitant to make exercises in class because they want their course notes to be super clean, without any mistakes. ...
30
votes
6answers
3k views

How to motivate an adolescent who has fallen behind in conceptual development?

I tutor a 16 year old girl. As far as I can tell, she has average talent and interest in math. However, her knowledge of math is that of a 10 year old or even below. She knows the basic operations on ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

What fraction of the population is incapable of learning algebra?

In the comment thread of this academia.SE question, the following generated some strong reactions: My very different (community-college) perspective is that the math discipline will end up as a ...
28
votes
10answers
1k views

What are argument one can give to students on the definition $0^0$?

From high school to introduction courses in university, the expression $0^0$ is some (psychological) problems. High school students just apply it to their calculator and either the result is $1$ or ...
28
votes
17answers
7k views

How do I show students the Beauty of Mathematics?

I teach many high school students, and all of them complain about being unable to fully understand mathematical concepts. I try to show them the joy of learning and deepen their understanding through ...
28
votes
10answers
5k views

Is Euclid dead? or Should Euclidean geometry be taught to high school students?

Apparently Euclid died about 2,300 years ago (actually 2,288 to be more precise), but the title of the question refers to the rallying cry of Dieudonné, "A bas Euclide! Mort aux triangles!" (...
28
votes
10answers
8k views

How should a student's inefficient calculation be pointed out?

One time I watched a student solve the equation $0 = (x-2)^2-9$ for $x$ like this. $$\begin{align*} 0 &= (x-2)^2-9 \\0 &= (x^2-4x+4)-9 \\0 &= x^2-4x-5 \\0 &= (x+1)(x-...
28
votes
3answers
9k views

Difference between high school and college calculus courses

I am curious why students who take calculus in high school often do so poorly in college calculus. I am an instructor at an engineering college and I've noticed a decent number of students who have ...
27
votes
15answers
4k views

How do I teach algebra?

I find that soon I'll be working with high school students that are struggling with math. In particular, we'll be talking a lot about algebra and some basic trigonometry. The latter I have experience ...
27
votes
10answers
7k views

Should LaTeX be taught in high school?

This semester, I was forced to learn LaTeX for my Real Analysis class. The professor wanted all homework assignments to be typed in LaTeX in order to produce "high-quality" work. At first I was ...
27
votes
13answers
8k views

Should I be teaching point-slope formula to high school algebra students?

I'm student teaching this semester, and so far I'm loving it! Our next section in the book teaches point-slope formula, and my cooperating teacher (a 24-year veteran teacher) is convinced that point-...
27
votes
7answers
967 views

Why does high school teaching in the USA require a teaching certificate while college/university teaching does not?

Original post: I have a math PhD. In the United States, I can teach at a 4-year university or a community college without any additional training. However, to teach mathematics in high-school I must ...
25
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9answers
7k views

How to justify teaching students to rationalize denominators?

I'm teaching an "intermediate algebra" college course ($\approx$ junior high school or beginning high school algebra) and we have a bunch of problems on rationalizing denominators. How do I motivate ...
25
votes
7answers
2k views

What arguments can I give a high school student why mathematics is important?

In almost all countries all over the world, mathematics is a main subject in school. Maybe the subject bringing trouble to families with kids. It is clear that scientist, engineers, etc. need ...
25
votes
9answers
2k views

Teaching students to find and correct their own errors

Many students have a fairly good grasp of the topics they are learning but fall down because they miss fatal errors in their work. Some don't check for errors at all, while many simply can't find them....
24
votes
6answers
952 views

How to present $\Bbb Z/n\Bbb Z$ to highschool level audience

I have the oportunity to talk to a highschool class about mathematics, the topic I got to present are the integers modulo $n$, ie, $\Bbb Z/n\Bbb Z$ , however I don't want to be very heavy and formal, ...
24
votes
2answers
912 views

Student Poisoned Experience with Math

I’d like to start off with saying I am not a teacher so I don’t know how much of this is already trying to be addressed in math education throughout the world. In talking to and tutoring fellow ...
24
votes
4answers
5k views

How is teaching calculus in high school different from teaching calculus in college?

I've taught calculus in college for five years, and it's always interesting to see students coming in who already had calculus in high school. Many of them do very well, and don't even seem like they ...
23
votes
7answers
3k views

A Non-Unique Factorization of Integers!

I'm going to introduce my students to the fundamental theorem of arithmetic (uniqueness of integer factorization to prime factors), and I don't want them to take the uniqueness for granted! To make my ...
23
votes
13answers
17k views

Ideas for high school pure maths projects

I am thinking of giving my high school students some pure maths projects to do. It is a lot easier to think of some interesting stats projects but not in pure maths. The students' maths background are ...
23
votes
8answers
2k views

“We already passed that course!” How to overcome this?

I've heard the phrase "we passed that course already!" too many times when asking for e.g. the derivative of a simple rational function or a simple integral, getting blank stares, and digging deeper. ...
23
votes
5answers
682 views

Do all high school students need the same 3-year sequence of math courses?

I continue to be troubled by the amount of symbolic manipulation in a typical Algebra 2 course. Once a student has completed Algebra 1 and Geometry, shouldn't there be another option for them if a ...
23
votes
1answer
540 views

Is there a Piagetian age at which proofs can be comprehended?

I am wondering if there is literature on the developmental age (pre-adolescent?, adolescent?) at which the notion of a "proof" can be understood? I am less interested in mathematical proofs and more ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

How do I nicely tell my coworkers that they are NOT mathematicians?

I teach for a company along with a large group of teachers, almost all of which are people who have graduated with the standard Bachelor level education in Education and Science/Mathematics. I am ...
22
votes
8answers
692 views

Is it good to have solutions of homework published?

At a course at the university, the students have to do homeworks every week which will be graded and discussed in exercise groups. Is it a good idea to put "official" solutions of the homework on ...
22
votes
4answers
791 views

A Series of Unfortunate Examples!

All of us know, when teaching, the "right" choice of examples is important. Though, making the "right" choice is one of those things that are easier said than done. Here is the story of a series of ...
22
votes
3answers
8k views

Why aren't logarithms introduced earlier?

I've always been puzzled by the unequal treatments of square roots and logarithms in school mathematics. In the United States, most students know what a square root is before they enter high school (...
21
votes
10answers
4k views

Pi or Tau? How should the circle constant be taught?

Tau ($\tau = 2 \pi$) has more merits in its application, but pi is the established standard in industry and education. Is the trade-off of teach-ability of circle concepts worth the subsequent ...
21
votes
9answers
3k views

“A computer program IS a proof”: Introducing rigor via programming

This provocative essay Igor Rivin. "Some Thoughts on the Teaching of Mathematics—Ten Years Later." Notices of the AMS, Jun/Jul 2014. (PDF download link). suggests that a discussion of Igor'...
21
votes
7answers
863 views

Is $e^{i\pi}+1=0$ a good motivation for introducing $e$ or $i$? Why (not)?

Most mathematicians would agree that $$e^{i\pi}+1=0$$ is one of the most impressive formulas. Imagine your students have just learned about the definition of $e$ or $i$ (just assume it's $e$, ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

Are there disadvantages to teaching complex numbers as purely geometrical objects?

Complex numbers are, or at least were to me, generally introduced like this: There's no number whose square is negative. That's a shame! Well, whatever - we'll make one up! Set $i^2=-1$ and declare ...
20
votes
9answers
2k views

The definition of natural log and e

I'm asking this question from the point of view of an introductory non-rigorous calculus instructor. Calculus textbooks have different approaches about how to define $e$ and $\ln$. For example, my ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

Introduction to Topology for 11 year olds

I am planning a 1-hour lesson for a group of 20 11 year olds. I would like to expose them to topology, as an area of research-level mathematics that could be accessible to them. I want to convince ...
20
votes
4answers
715 views

How to help motivate math when tutoring low level algebra (High school)

I was tutoring a student today and we were doing basic factoring of quadratics and expanding terms like $(x+2)(x+5)$. Now he ended up being able to do this by the end of our 2 and a half hour session, ...
20
votes
5answers
4k views

Real time interactive whiteboard for tutoring math

I have reposted this question on Software Recommendations. I'm looking for a web app for tutoring math remotely to high school and junior high kids that ideally has the following: Build in graphing. ...
19
votes
9answers
3k views

Is 'estimating' still considered a valuable skill?

I was with a 2nd year high school class, preparing for our (US) state's standardized test. I asked the class how they would solve this, and they flipped through the sheets to find $$V=\frac{1}{3}\pi ...
19
votes
12answers
9k views

How to explain that we live in a three-dimensional world?

How does one explain, clearly and simply, that we live in a three-dimensional world? The explanation has to be understandable for a twelve year old child.
19
votes
5answers
847 views

Good way to explain why an absolute value in an equation does not automatically mean to make the other side +/-

I was helping out in a learning support class today and we were working through some absolute value problems when something like $|x + 4| - 5 = 10$ came up and both students I was working with split ...
19
votes
3answers
764 views

When did the American school system's progression of math classes take its current form?

In the United States, secondary education students generally progress through pre-algebra courses, then algebra, Euclidean geometry, more algebra/trigonometry, then calculus or statistics. I am ...

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