# Tag Info

### Explaining why (or whether) zero and one are prime, composite or neither to younger children

"Because we said so" is a bit of a conversation closer, I agree. But "Because some people agreed a long time ago to define it that way so we could have conversations where we all understood each ...

### What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

I'm confused. Are you really going to try to make this sort of distinction when teaching geometric figures to students "around 9-13 years old"? Students that age (and engineers my age -- ...
Accepted

### Why should or shouldn't we teach functions to 15 year olds?

In the U.S. Common Core standards, functions are supposed to be introduced in the 8th grade, i.e., around age 13-14. So arguably age 15 is a year or two behind where they ought to be. The standard for ...

### In what curricula are "rectangles" defined so as to exclude squares?

I cannot answer the OP's question about cross-cultural/international perspectives, but here is a historical perspective that may be helpful. The issue here (whether the category "rectangles"...

Accepted

### Why do students have problems with showing that something is well-defined? How can this be improved?

Maybe, your students have a belief problem. They will rarely (maybe never) have encountered problems where something was not well-defined. If you have never been in trouble since everything you were ...

### Getting students to actually read definitions

In my experience, students are often predisposed to "learn" by memorizing facts; that's how much of their early education worked, so that's what they're used to. When you give them a ...

### What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

One encounters exactly the same issue teaching multivariable calculus when one treats integrals over three-dimensional regions and integrals over the surfaces that are their boundaries. In particular ...

### What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

I think the distinction you are raising is not natural to students at this age. I teach undergraduates and graduate students, not elementary schoolers, but I find that it is not natural for ...
Accepted

### The definition of natural log and e

I think it is a good thing to talk about how there are some concepts where there are choices for where you start when definining them. It happens in linear algebra too, with the definition of linear ...

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

I think there are serious pedagogical problems with such an approach. Here is a good general rule for explaining any kind of math: Skipping over the motivation doesn't make something easier to ...

### What is an intercept?

This is a case where you might be looking for a distinction that's pretty subtle. By definition, the y-intercept occurs at x=0. In one notation, it's literally f(0), where the x is explicitly offered....

### Getting students to actually read definitions

First of all, you should test them on remembering the definitions. Second, there are probably a significant number of your students who do not understand the definitions. Suppose you gave them an ...

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

It's funny you should ask this now, because I just taught a Math Ed graduate class on this topic the other day, so a lot of these thoughts are fresh in my mind. The pedagogical sequence we ...

### Can students tell the difference between the "definition if" and the "theorem if"?

Not formal research, but some decades of experience teaching both undergrad and graduate level courses, and "editing" PhD theses and such: It appears that even many serious professional ...

### Different Kinds of Variables

$2x$ is an expression, a phrase. Compare it to "two ducks". This is neither true nor false. It doesn't have a 'truth value'. $2x = 4$ is an equation, a statement. Compare it to "two ducks have four ...

### Why should or shouldn't we teach functions to 15 year olds?

Functions are far broader and more applicable than you give them credit for. Consider the following: Country or state Capital Elevation (in meters) Bolivia Sucre 2783 Ecuador Quito 2763 Colombia ...

### Rigorously defining the concept of an angle for high school students

Many high school geometry textbooks define an angle as simply the union of two rays with a common endpoint The advantage of this definition is its simplicity. Among its disadvantages: It does ...

### For purposes of teaching, should constant functions be considered "linear functions"?

A linear function is not necessarily a first degree polynomial function: zero function is also linear. In France the terminology is more appropriate than the traditional English one: a linear ...

### The definition of natural log and e

I think a lot depends on context -- what course you are teaching and what the characteristics of that course are. If by "Freshman college calculus" you mean what I think you mean -- namely, a non-...

### Why do students have problems with showing that something is well-defined? How can this be improved?

I've never tried this in a classroom, but I suspect a lot of the trouble with functions is that students haven't been taught the vocabulary to deal with things that are weaker than functions. For ...

### What is a variable?

This is a very difficult question to answer; I recommend as a first place to look: Usiskin, Z. (1988). Conceptions of school algebra and uses of variables. The ideas of algebra, K-12, 8, 19. Link (no ...

### Are degrees of polynomials illogically defined in elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra courses?

I'm going to rewrite this answer to clarify what I think the issue is. I think the OP is imagining a different definition of the ring $k[x]$ than most answerers are. Here are two reasonable ...

### how is volume different than capacity

The situation does indeed change your interpretation of the terminology. Volume is a general concept of the amount of 3D space something takes up. For a solid object like a brick, or for a liquid ...

### For purposes of teaching, should constant functions be considered "linear functions"?

While I haven't done a systematic survey, my impression is that the overwhelming majority of pre-calculus and calculus texts define a linear function to be one of the form $f(x) = mx + b$ with no ...

### Why do students have problems with showing that something is well-defined? How can this be improved?

I think that you hit the nail on the head, when you said some are not even aware of what well-defined means. As Anschewski suggests the problem may be that students have not encountered enough non-...
Turning my comment into an answer as per request: I think the graphical approach gets the idea across. You could represent $3\times 1$ by a row of three dots; likewise, $3\times 2$ is two rows of ...