Skip to comments.Is Algebra Necessary?
Posted on 07/29/2012 6:05:38 AM PDT by reaganaut1
A TYPICAL American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? Ive found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldnt.
My question extends beyond algebra and applies more broadly to the usual mathematics sequence, from geometry through calculus. State regents and legislators and much of the public take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.
There are many defenses of algebra and the virtue of learning it. Most of them sound reasonable on first hearing; many of them I once accepted. But the more I examine them, the clearer it seems that they are largely or wholly wrong unsupported by research or evidence, or based on wishful logic. (Im not talking about quantitative skills, critical for informed citizenship and personal finance, but a very different ballgame.)
This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, were actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.
The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nations shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators Ive talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Take a look at a 1912 high school math test.
We send far to many 'precious resources' to college when they can't do basic math. Where they waste 4 years.
We went to the moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard.
Git ride of spelleng two. Thate wass harde subjek four me.
Using algebra is fairly handy in day to day calculations for material, etc. I am saddened when I see grown people guessing or concluding that a determination is impossible, when all that is required is a simple algebra equation.
Counting on your digits doesn't count as higher math.
The link for the article is http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all
I will tell you EXACTLY why they are “struggling”. The math teachers are les incompetents, is why. My son has had teachers making 50G plus or more at the high school level in our “excellent” school district who were dumber than a box of hammers about math or how to teach it. My son is a math natural who was talking about negative numbers at the age of four, so he told me he just taught himself out of the book. When he went to college, he tested into an avanced calculus class freshman year. However, that class was taught by a Chinese “TA” no one could make heads or tails out of what he was saying. So again, my son had to teach the subject to himself.
My daughter, a student at the best private school in the city and had a “genius” woman for a math teacher. The majority of we parents were also paying for tutors for our individual students who knew how to get an idea from teacher to student cogently, unlike the “genius” who was responsible for teaching the class. So on top of exorbitant private school tuition, we are paying taxes and for private tutors just to get middle school math basics. Oh and you dare not say anything about any of the teachers due to possible repercussions.
I’m one of those who just could not grasp Algebra. I the world ever comes to a crisis and I need to know what time a train that left Cleveland at midnight going 60 mph pass a plane from Baltimore, I’m screwed.
Two million college freshman who are paying (borrowing) 30K/year to learn what a "college student" should have known after 11th grade. The universities should not allow any student into college (borrowing big $) if they cannot pass basic competency tests. These basic competencies can be learned in an environment that does not cost $30K, and if they cannot learn these things they do not belong in college.
I stopped reading at this point. The author has no basis for constructing this article.
I have a BA in English and a graduate certificate in professional writing, but I went up to Calc III in college. Algebra is not impossible. We need to come up with more creative, practical ways to teach it.
Fitting article from the NYT.
After all, we know math is not a friend of liberals.
Elementary algebraic topology would be a good substitute.
Michigan state rep (and now republican national committeeman) Dave Agema wants to require constitutional literacy from schools.
Oh AND when she started at the private school, we had to do summer at Sylvan learning center which determined that at our “excellent” public elementary school, she had not been taught decimals or fractions. So much for the idiot “education” degree these “teachers” are required to obtain by the “Education Department” and the NEA which gives them the 50G plus salaries just or showing up
So the free traders want to outsource all of our manufacturing jobs, jobs tailor made for about 50% of the population, so they can retrain to do what?
It sure as heck was at my high school. Guess what? They also had calculus and advanced algebra and trigonometry and physics. so there.
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