Is this question considered to be on-topic?

To me it seems to be asking about the meaning of English phrases in the context of mathematics, or alternatively about how to judge the validity of a mathematics research paper. Neither of these seem to me to be about maths education.

The comment

this question (if properly asked) has the educational benefit of dealing with that pernicious belief

doesn't seem very relevant to me, as my understanding was that this site was for asking about how to educate people in maths, not for doing the education.

On the other hand, at least 4 users think this is a good question.

Thus I am curious about what others think of this question.


1 Answer 1


The question is meanwhile "on hold." Let me still add some thoughts on this.

To me the question by intent feels borderline; a sharpened version might be suitable in my mind.

One of the site's goals is to allow question on "the process of learning mathematics." In a way Iwaniec describes how he studied/learned this piece of mathematics and describes, or rather hints at, a technique he used to this end.

The question somehow seems to try to enquirer what this technique is or how it works and so on. This is quite vague and broad. Moreover, one can see it as too much of a stretch to consider the activity of one of the foremost experts in his area of research as part of the on-topic of this site.

But then the technique to first try to get a high-level understanding and to only then study the details is one that could profitably be used at other levels too. So it still feels relevant. Yet OP should somehow specify more clearly what type of answer or information pertinent to this site's on-topic they seek.

  • $\begingroup$ "The process of learning math" is only borderline on-topic, and when alluded to in a question, may or may not be on-topic. "How can I learn and remember the Pythagorean theorem?", e.g., I would view as best be asked on math.se. "I'm am currently teaching foo in Calculus for high school students, by doing fee, fie, and foe. Is there any literature on whether these pedagogical strategies are helpful for students' mastery of course content?", seems unquestionably certainly on-topic for me.se. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that the first question is not really on-topic here, although some might say that in the end answers to it are arguably not that different from the question "How can I present the Pythagorean theorem in such a way that helps students to remember it?" which does seem on-topic (at least if presented with some more details). On "teaching" and "the process of learning" in my mind "teaching" could be taken to be mostly about what a teacher does, which seems too narrow. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you that the altered question you wrote, is most likely on topic here, @quid. (And when I wrote "do"I meant things like "present, teach, assess, etc." $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ In a few comments I've used to address mathematics questions posted here instead of of on math.se, I've used "This site (me.se) is geared to questions by and for math educators," to convey this site's focus. (See, e.g., my comment below this question.) If you think I should alter this, feel free to suggest a concise alternative. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ It seems overall fine to me. It seems rather direct but that can also be useful. I think 'If you improve the question significantly, according to the quality expected of posts on it's site, you can then post it at Mathematics.' is a bit complicated to follow and might be confusing as to where to improve the question. We do not really want them to improve it here. Maybe just 'You could post a significantly improved version at Mathematics.' followed by the existing parenthetical which explains what is meant by this. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @quid. That makes a lot of sense. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 18:44

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