[OS X TeX] Latex for beginning math students

Alain Schremmer Schremmer.Alain at verizon.net
Tue Aug 24 23:15:30 EDT 2004

I appreciate, and am duly grateful for, all the decisive pedagogical 
advice but, if I described the situation in some detail, it was only to 
give some background and to indicate the circumstances surrounding my 
request. My request was about LaTeX and I would not have posted on this 
list otherwise. Obviously, though, I did not make myself clear.

For the better or for the worse, and whatever the reasons, I would like 
the students to be able to show me their current work (of which I gave a 
couple of examples earlier) for me to respond in as detailed a manner as 
possible (which I can do for the most part with stock messages that, 
however, are more than a few words long and painful to write again and 
again—which I have been doing so far.) You may also think of it as 
useful for the currently fashionable "distance learning".

These students are familiar with email and I would like a medium in 
which they can easily present their not very complicated work and that 
they could attach to an email. MS Word has to be ruled out as it cannot 
be tinkered with and, as is, its mathematics editor is beyond these 
students. It was Robertson who, without knowing it, gave me the idea 
that maybe a very severely restricted, heavily macro-ed, LaTeX might 
provide the medium I long for.

Being completely innocent of programming of any sort, I have no idea if, 
for instance, something like what I wrote earlier, " "New" would open a 
new file with the preamble already there and with begin document and end 
document already there and no way for them to write anywhere other than 
inbetween" is at all possible. The idea would be to make it as sure as 
possible that it will typeset. Another thing I don't know, among many, 
is what Applescript can do.

In short, I wasn't asking those who know LaTeX and/or Applescript or 
whatever if what I am dreaming of were desirable but only if something 
along such lines were feasible.


Claus Gerhardt wrote:

> In view of your description of the students and their difficulties, I 
> don't believe that the use of a computer - apart from email - will be 
> of any help. On the contrary, it will most likely be 
> counterproductive, as it is nowadays the case in our elementary 
> schools and high schools, where the ability of pushing buttons with a 
> mouse click is considered to be an intellectual achievement, while 
> learning the basic culture techniques and knowledge, logical thinking, 
> analyzing and solving problems are getting less attention.
> When students lack the basic skills, blackboard and chalk for teaching 
> and paper and pencil for exercises are the appropriate tools. Of 
> course one should ask why these students are entering a college in the 
> first place, or, why is there a possible misconception of the role of 
> a college.
> Claus
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