Apparently I was unclear In yesterday’s post. In no way was I advocating getting rid of trig as a unit in regular high-school math, as some readers apparently thought. I wouldn’t do that; whenever I taught precalc, which I did often, I always found it extremely valuable for the students, and a good third of the year was trig.
In yesterday’s post I was writing about the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) course at the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University — not a pure math course, and not in the regular school year. It’s an interdisciplinary applied math course in a summer enrichment program, designed to teach habits of mind and academic rigor. All of these students will also be learning trig at some point in their regular high schools! QR extends for two consecutive summers, initially for rising sophomores and concluding with rising juniors. We have four units: algebraic models and models of voting the first summer, cryptography and trigonometric models the second summer. Very little of this is intended to duplicate the students’ experience during the school year, though of course some of it does, more at some schools than at others. What we are replacing is the last of the four units: trigonometric models.