Hello everyone,

I would like to ask three related soft (CW) questions, but I don't really know how I should do it. The questions are:

  1. It seems to me that there's is a great focus on Plane Geometry as a first proof-based course in high-school for 16-17-18 year olds in Western Europe and the United States. Why, if this a correct assertion, is there such a great focus on Plane Geometry as a first proof-based "course" in high-school in my country (Holland) and I believe many others throughout the world? (As opposed to, say, elementary number theory.)
  2. Have people ever tried to base such a first course on any other branch of mathematics?
  3. If the answer to (2) is "yes", to what extend was the attempt succesfull?

I know the general policy of asking questions on MSE is "one question per post", but I feel these questions are so related that they could fit in one post. How do you feel about this?

Furthermore, I would like to know if there is such a thing as a Math - or Science in general - Discussion website for asking soft-discussiony questions like these. I am talking about something that is at the intersection point of MO, MSE, blogs and a Forum.



  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Concerning 1.: I just wanted to point out that there was a related question whose answers at least partially address what you ask. $\endgroup$ – t.b. May 19 '11 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ Theo Thanks for pointing it out. I couldn't find that question while trying to find out if one of my questions was already asked because I looked at the tag "education" and that question wasn't there at that section. I edited the question so it's more descriptive. $\endgroup$ – Max Muller May 19 '11 at 13:37

In general it'll be a judgment call. I think you could ask 1. and then ask 2. and 3. together. But 1. was already discussed either here or on MO, and I think 2. was as well (depending on exactly what you mean by "high school") although unfortunately I couldn't tell you what keywords to look for.

As for your last question, that's roughly what PlanetMO is for, and you might also want to try your luck with quora, although I don't know much about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your quick reply, Qiaochu. I am now trying to find the relevant questions on either MO or MSE you're referring to. I found this mathoverflow.net/questions/19957/… but I don't think that's the question you're thinking of. I also found this mathoverflow.net/questions/40412/… and this math.stackexchange.com/questions/3087/… . Perhaps you were referring to this question (cont'nd) $\endgroup$ – Max Muller May 19 '11 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ mathoverflow.net/questions/64448/… when you were talking about graph theory? $\endgroup$ – Max Muller May 19 '11 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, about PlanetMO: it seems to me you can only post something there if you have a blog. Is this impression correct? $\endgroup$ – Max Muller May 19 '11 at 13:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Max: yes, I think that was the graph theory question I was thinking of. You're right about PlanetMO, but it is very easy to start a WordPress blog. (It is slightly harder to get people to read what you have to say, of course...) $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan May 19 '11 at 13:47

I feel that before you ask a "why"-question you should thoroughly check that you do not have wrong assumptions.

A question about "why" something holds "throughout the world" is highly susceptible to this problem.

Why not start with:

"In [my country/these countries] a first introduction to proofs [at age X] is usually based on plane geometry.

Are there other successful/more successful/unsuccessful examples of introducing students to proofs?"

  • $\begingroup$ You're absolutely right, I agree with you. I meant to give more details and be more specific in the "background" section of the question(s). $\endgroup$ – Max Muller May 19 '11 at 13:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .