Jacobs' Geometry

Book cover: 'Jacobs' Geometry'
Harold R Jacobs
W.H. Freedman and Company
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Saxon is a tried and true mathematics choice for many homeschoolers, but one complaint about the high school level texts Algebra I and Algebra II is that geometry is included piecemeal in the algebra courses rather than being taught separately in a systematic fashion. Jacobs' Geometry is one alternative for those who find this to be a problem. It is a friendly, thorough approach to high school geometry that starts with an introduction to deductive reasoning and takes the student through to non-Euclidean and coordinate geometry.

The format is very appealing, at least to my high-school age son and myself. The book is divided into chapters covering broad topics like Rays and Angles, Congruent Triangles, and Quadrilaterals. These are subdivided into lessons. Each lesson opens with a cartoon or thought puzzle which draws the student into the topic being discussed. There are three sets of problems in each lesson: the first one usually checks comprehension of concepts and knowledge of theorems, the second set is an application of the lesson to proofs, and the third set, usually a single question, presents a brain-teaser which allows the student to think and ponder creatively.

A Letter to the Student at the beginning tells the story of Pythagoras, the Greek geometer, who taught a reluctant student by paying him for each theorem he learned. By the end of the course, the student was paying Pythagoras. The anecdote sets the tone for the whole book, the assumption being that geometry is a noble, worthwhile endeavor and that a student will realize this and be willing to apply himself to mastery.

Though I haven't used the Jacobs' Algebra, the format looks similar to Geometry. My high-schooler is using it now in short sections as a review. With my next high schooler, I am planning to go from Saxon Algebra ½ to Jacobs' Algebra. There is no book in the Jacobs' series after Geometry; the author Harold Jacobs recommends Algebra II and Trigonometry by Paul A Foerster as the next step before Calculus.

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