Turning fear into and everyday relevance.

Even more revealing were the results found by the 2000 Decorte, Verschaffel and Green study which stated, “when middle school students were prompted to ask their parents about their use of the Pythagorean Theorem, an overwhelming 78% answered that they could not recall ever using the Pythagorean Theorem in their day to day lives” (Decorte, Verschaffel and Green). In response, many modern day teachers have begun to explore new ways to teach the Pythagorean Theorem in an attempt to help students see the relevance it can have in their everyday lives.

For many students, the words “Pythagorean Theorem” can sound incredibly daunting and intimidating. It is the teacher’s job to show them how the process of this theorem are performed in various daily situations, and that they have probably already experienced it without realizing it. By introducing students to real-life examples, teachers can help take the fear out of the equation. “Some mathematicians and teachers have attempted to produce textbooks that use a bare minimum of sentential representation and argument” (Lindsay). These books often proved useless without further explanation from the teacher. They proved that students needed real-life examples of how the Pythagorean Theorem worked in order to understand the process. The diagrams in these textbooks are often referred to as “diagrammatic demonstrations”. “A diagram that illustrates a mathematical relation by showing in essence that it is an accurate reflection of the behavior of objects in space and provides an understanding because it grounds the abstraction in our customary experience” (Lindsay). The problem with these diagrams was that they often reflected shaped that were unrealistic and never seen in real life. One approach that many teachers are currently pursuing is to use pictures of real buildings, baseball fields, and other such relevant structures.

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