New Course of Studies Introduction

The new course of studies booklet was just printed. Here’s the new introduction to the Math Department’s section:

Mathematics is the language of the universe. It is everywhere, and every subject is permeated by mathematics. It is beautiful, logical, abstract, relevant, and practical. Furthermore, a background in mathematics can lead you just about anywhere. Math majors have chosen careers from law, medicine, computer science, and engineering to philosophy and the visual and performing arts. Increasingly, many more professions require knowledge of higher mathematics for full success.

The world of mathematics is full of breathtaking examples of elegant beauty, brought forth from the luminary minds of people such as Noether, Erdos, Newton, Escher, Turing, and Lovelace. The Williston Mathematics Department strives to expose all students to that beauty while also realizing that many, if not all, students will need mathematics for its practical applications. The students of today are entering a quantitative world that demands an understanding of our subject. Through their studies of mathematics and with the support of a dedicated faculty, Williston students at all levels build habits of mind that translate into the many other areas of life that require problem solving.

A defining characteristic of humanity is our curiosity, and through our study of mathematics we continue the perpetual journey of understanding our existence. Mathematics is the bridge between the arts and the sciences, and we believe that everyone can find joy in mathematics.

The primary goal of Williston’s Math Department is to help prepare students for college mathematics. The course sequence—Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II—teaches the foundation of mathematics that all students need. Once they have mastered the foundation, students can delve more deeply into mathematics through a variety of upper-level courses. While the content of these courses varies, the primary goal of each course is the same: to help students become more successful problem solvers.

In addition to different course options, students will encounter various tools and learning situations. Sometimes students will use computers to explore mathematics, or calculators to assist with graphing and computation. Students taking Geometry will participate in laboratories designed to provide time for extended work. At other times students will work in small groups to investigate a topic. All of these experiences encourage a flexible approach to mathematics.

Whether students dislike math or enjoy puzzle-thinking, have strong backgrounds or weak ones, they will find teachers dedicated to supporting their efforts to become better problem solvers. Each course offers the opportunity to review basic skills and to master the core knowledge of the subject. Students are challenged to move beyond memorized rules to discover the source of rules, to examine why they work, and to theorize about how they are used to solve problems.

As Roger Bacon proclaims, mathematics is a gateway. Like most gates it must be unlocked; and one cannot be pushed through it but must enter with one’s own effort.

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