When I was taught trigonometry for the first time, I learned it as ratios of sides of right-angled triangles. Like this:

Most students coming into a Science degree at the University of Adelaide are at least vaguely familiar with this, and it’s their first instinct when using trigonometry. However, the lecturers in Physics and Engineering don’t […]

Posted in Isn't maths cool?, Thoughts about maths thinking
Tagged explanations, trigonometry

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“When will I ever use this?” is possibly a maths teacher’s most feared student question. It conjures up all sorts of unpleasant feelings: anger that students don’t see the wonder of the maths itself, sadness that they’ve come to expect maths is only worthwhile if it’s usable for something, fear that if we don’t respond […]

Posted in Being a good teacher, How people learn (or don't)
Tagged Drop-In Centre, student wellbeing

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Yesterday, I had one of those experiences in the MLC that makes me love my job.

The Maths 1B students were working on a linear algebra proof today, and as I came up to one of the tables, Fred (name changed) was explaining the beginning of his proof to the rest of the table. When I […]

Posted in How people learn (or don't), Other MLC stuff
Tagged Drop-In Centre, problem-solving

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One of the most fundamental properties of the integral is usually presented as follows:

This means that multiplying by a constant before doing the integral is the same as doing the integral and then multiplying by a constant. However, the way it’s presented here makes it look like a rule for algebraic manipulation – I can […]