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 ...
The last time I had to find x was junior year at college. The real world doesn’t care where x is.
I don’t think Algebra 2 is needed. To get into certain college programs (i.e. Computer Science or Engineering), sure. Just like certain GPAs are required. But just to graduate from high school, no.
Oh good Lord.....what a bunch of candy-assed, lazy-minded bulls**t. Algebra is pretty basic math and it is NOT that freakin’ hard, folks.
We’ve become a dumbed-down nation of morons.
The shame is that "writers and social scientists" think the solution is to dumb down the curriculum. You don't make muscles stronger by asking them to do less. The same applies to young skulls full of mush.
However she would melt down at moderate to complex accounting problems. I tended to do rather well.
Not trying to diss accountants. I have lots of respect for the profession, especially my accountant. But I do think there are different categories of math that require very different mental skill sets.
Why do most of these students need math at all? All the fast-food registers do the math for them.
I’ll second it about the teachers not being able to teach. I tutor middle school math. The kids are confused, the teachers are either math-illiterate or used to be engineers and cannot remember ever learning math; the math tutors are in high demand. The books are awful, too - seem to be written by drama majors not those who think math. I use the older texts whenever I can.
I’m a lifelong mathphobe. I also once said that there would probably never be a need for me to use algebra. I was fourteen when I said that. Amazingly enough in the past 47 years I have rarely (never?) had a direct need for algebra. However, I have often (everyday!) had a need for abstract thinking which mathematics instruction does impart. This is just more dumbing down of the population to make it easier for the leftist elites to rule the proletariat.
“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.”
Don’t take this personal, because it’s certainly not meant that way, but I suspect that you are like the people that I work with.
When my kids were little, I made a point of teaching them reading and math, simply because I didn’t trust people that are basically strangers with a political agenda, to do it correctly. It worked, and my kids got roughly 6 grade levels ahead of their age (right into college). I still sent them to (private) school, but they knew it was just for daycare, at least in reading and math.
My kids are not geniuses and have ZERO INTEREST in learning the stuff - and got their butts red many, many, times - in order to get them to focus - they were and are NOTHING SPECIAL.
Anyway, as I saw my first kid pick up reading at age 3.5 and become fluent and fast at it a year later, I told my co-workers - and their reaction was all the same: “That’s all nice, but we pay for the public schools and I intend to get my money’s worth.”
I have since given up on them and don’t even bother talking to them anymore - but it is sure nice that my kids are getting free rides through college.
We should go to new math like they taught in the sixties. It started students on abstract algebra and logic. One more thing fire the teachers unions ; nothing stops a child’s learning process like teachers who can’t teach.
Of course a blue eyed devil would think that!
You don’t need a High School degree to get a government check.
Gee, that chart looks like it has algebra in it somewhere. Pretty tough.
"Honey, can you get me another beer?"
If I had been taught algebra in the context of physics in HS, it would have clicked. Just the way my brain is wired.
Commenting on the foolishness of the original article, I'd have a few years ago been shocked by such “thinking”. No longer. Our nation seems now to be overrun (or run) by a bunch of “big thinkers” from junior high who, because they've had smoke blow up their rears for so long, honestly believe that any opinion they happen to develop is a) correct, and b) beyond brilliant.
Remember an old dissertation on when we were considering going totally metric....One of the old phrases that would be effected: "Walk a mile in my shoes".
Psst....one college prof made us use only a slide rule. He also had flash exams....where we were told to approximate the answer in our head and write it down. What a great teacher.
Well I certainly agree with that. And the solution is pretty obvious to me. Here is the way you do it:
1. Burn all the politically correct, 10 lb, full color, very expensive algebra texts currently in vogue and ban their use forever.
2. Purchase any 1910 algebra textbook weighing in at 6-7 ounces or so and use it to teach algebra using the old fashioned and proven Theory, Example Problems and Problems for the Student approach.
Advantages: Schools save $billions, students learn algebra and they don't need a backpack to lug their math book to school.