How To Understand Trigonometry

To understand trigonometry, math must be approached with new perspectives.  Identifying this perspective can be harrowing, yet enjoyable.  If you view math with trepidation and insecurity, this article will hopefully help become more optimistic about starting a trigonometry class.

Upon entering college, I did not get math.  Although the sciences interested me, I ran from them and into the arms of literature and philosophy so I wouldn't have to face four semesters of calculus.  But in my last semester of undergraduate work, I enrolled in a mathematically-based philosophy class.  I was astonished by the intricate logic presented.  I strove for a way to break down each problem into the most elemental parts, and then assembled them to create a solution.

The key to understand trigonometry, is remembering that math follows a simple set of rules.  The principles of trigonometry are based on figuring out the relationship of points in a circle.  To get the x-axis of the circle, you use sine and use the function sine = the y-axis length / the hypotenuse.  Cosine = the x-axis / the hypotenuse, and the tangent is figured out using the Pythagorean Theorem.  Once these rules have been grasped, then it becomes a simple construction based upon the rules of logic.  Herein lays the creativity embodied in math.

By breaking sine, cosine, and tangent into more simplistic language and learning how we can apply these formulae pragmatically, rather than just think of them as concepts we're stuck with in the classroom, we can begin to perceive their function, and start to understand how to use trigonometry to solve problems.

If I taught fractions to children, I would show them a pizza cut into 8 slices.  I would then remove sections of the pizza and ask the student how much we had left of that whole pizza.  Invariably, the children would grasp this concept more quickly than if I simply described fractions without a reference point.  Similarly, we must visualize the usefulness of trigonometric systems to really understand them.  Memorize the six basic formulae with this triangle in mind.  These are the elements of trigonometry.

You will have difficulty understanding trigonometry.  Work with your teachers and tutors to discover how to apply the basic principles of trigonometry to your own life.  When trigonometry can be applied to aspects of your everyday life, learning becomes easier.  Math can be fun if you understand its creative aspect.  Work hard to understand trigonometry, and you will gain an insight into an entirely different world of thought.


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