All Greek To Me

When we learn the alphabet, we're presented with a big picture of a letter, in its uppercase and lowercase form, and shown that letter in use in a familiar word.

Nobody ever did the equivalent for me for rho, sigma, lambda, etc. They just showed up on a blackboard in a sophomore physics class, without introduction.

Is that a common experience?

If so, then physics educators are lacking basic techniques known to kindergarten teachers everywhere.

That's pathetic.

It's like hiding physics knowledge behind a secret door so only the most determined students actually reach it.

1 comment:

Jon Peck said...

Worse yet, different contexts give these symbols widely different meanings, and the meanings aren't always explicitly described, even when the contexts are similar enough to be confusing. For example: most folks assume that Theta indicates "angle", but in stats it often indicates "mean"; even more confusingly, Gamma indicates a factorial under some cases, but represents a matrix in others (this is much like a word being both a verb and an unrelated noun). These overridden meanings would not be problem if users indicated which context they were operating under, but most (even textbooks) don't.