Whole thing here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opini … d=fb-shareA 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? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.
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. (I’m 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, we’re 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.
My answer is Yes! Algebra is the foundation for all of mathematics and works hand in hand with arithmetic. To say otherwise is pure ignorance. If I were to say to you "7 times what is 42?". You would hopefully tell me that the answer is six. You don't even have to replace the word 'what' with the letter X, 'what' acts as the variable here and you are using algebra. If you've ever sat in traffic and had to decide between two different routes in order to shorten the length of your trip, you're using a form of algebra.
They've already dumbed down the English side greatly by removing the spelling and grammar components because 'they were too hard'. Now they want to do the same to math? What happens to people that decide to change career paths halfway through college from humanities to science? If my high school math had stopped after geometry I would've been completely fucked. Yes, the way math is taught in American schools is nigh on retarded but the problem isn't with the courses taught but with the way the curriculum is set up. There's honestly no reason why kids can't have completed calculus by the time they've finished high school, but they've pushed that to college instead and slowed everything lower down to a snails pace to compensate.
What say you? Should 'hard maths' like algebra be removed from the high school curriculum?