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ERIC Number: EJ1029547
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Dec
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
If Only Clairaut Had Dynamic Geometric Tools
Chang, Hyewon; Reys, Barbara J.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v19 n5 p280-287 Dec 2013
Geometry is a major area of study in middle school mathematics, yet middle school and secondary students have difficulty learning important geometric concepts. This article considers Alexis-Claude Clairaut's approach that emphasizes engaging student curiosity about key ideas and theorems instead of directly teaching theorems before their application in real life. Clairaut, an eighteenth-century French mathematician and astronomer, prepared a geometry text that drew on what he called the "natural human thought" process. His approach was characterized by combining logical and intuitive elements, instead of building elements of geometry on a purely logical basis. According to Clairaut's method, teachers can support student engagement by asking them to consider ideas and to investigate their truth. Examples of applying Clairaut's theory are described. The authors explain that Clairaut's geometry concepts can be applied in the use of Dynamic geometry software technology that enables and promotes student exploration and engagement by identifying and creating the scenarios under which students can and will explore important ideas. Current technology gives teachers a perfect opportunity to revisit Clairaut's approaches, thus improving opportunities for student learning in the middle-grades mathematics classroom.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A