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Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+2,003|4354|London, England
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? 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.
Whole thing here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opini … d=fb-share

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?
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
13urnzz
Banned
+5,830|5494

i passed algebra my freshman year, and haven't used it since.
Winston_Churchill
Bazinga!
+521|5735|Toronto | Canada

they need to expand the high school math curriculum, at least here they do.  we only do a very weak overview of differential calculus and never get into integration at all, whereas kids from basically everywhere else in the world (even neighbouring provinces) get thorough experience with differentiation and learn integration.

id agree that higher levels of algebra are wholly unnecessary for basically everyone (ie linear algabra, fuck you) but basic algebra everyone uses every single day, whether they know it or not.  its absolutely essential and should most certainly be taught.  its not the material, but usually the student or teacher thats the problem
Beduin
Compensation of Reactive Power in the grid
+510|4746|شمال
its a way of thinking
الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام
...show me the schematic
Shocking
sorry you feel that way
+333|4995|...
It's essential in a child's development. Not because algebra is important per se, but because doing 'hard math' stimulates the brain and makes it better at problem solving.
inane little opines
rdx-fx
...
+955|5588
You don't have to learn Algebra.
You don't have to make much more than minimum wage, either.

World needs people to dig ditches, and ask the important existential questions like, "U wan' fries wi' tha'?"
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+2,003|4354|London, England
The guy that posted that article on facebook, and who I subsequently had an argument with that wasted a half hour of my time, drives an 18-wheeler for a living
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
mtb0minime
minimember
+2,418|5651

Cave men got by without algebra. Also, algebra was invented by Arabs, so I think we should stop teaching it because brown people are terrorists.

Last edited by mtb0minime (2012-07-30 12:01:50)

_j5689_
Dreads & Bergers
+353|5713|Riva, MD
Algebra is the reason I dropped out of college tbh, it's just too mentally exhausting to keep doing and if you don't understand one part, you're pretty much fucked for the rest of the semester.  I know I'd probably be screwed if I ever tried to take that class again, and that's just the 1st remedial class.  I'd still have to take one more remedial math after that and then another credited math that would finally allow me to be concurrently enrolled in anything related to my major.

Math is all well and good for mental stimulation but it shouldn't be as much of a roadblock to everything else as it is
jord
Member
+2,382|5674|The North, beyond the wall.
I managed to get a B in maths in high school without knowing any algebra, so I would've got an A if it wasn't on the test. Oh well.
Ilocano
buuuurrrrrrppppp.......
+341|5663

Algebra as difficult subject = discredits author.
Cheeky_Ninja06
Member
+52|5729|Cambridge, England
Its just algebra. Replacing numbers with letters is a way of thinking its not difficult to do simple algebra, we dont need everybody integrating equations but removing it completely is daft.

We have a problem over here that everybody is taught how to use software but nobody can make it. Removing algebra from the curriculum is the wrong direction.
rdx-fx
...
+955|5588

_j5689_ wrote:

Algebra is the reason I dropped out of college tbh, it's just too mentally exhausting to keep doing and if you don't understand one part, you're pretty much fucked for the rest of the semester.
That describes any STEM degree.

Each successive class builds on the foundations of the previous classes.
If you didn't understand the material in the previous class, you're going to be absolutely lost in the next class.

If you have a lousy teacher, or an unmotivated student, any class can be impossible.
If you have an excellent teacher (think Richard Feynman, for a standout example), even bleeding edge theoretical physics can be fun.
rdx-fx
...
+955|5588

mtb0minime wrote:

Cave men got by without algebra. Also, algebra was invented by Arabs, so I think we should stop teaching it because brown people are terrorists.
That line of reasoning works remarkably well on door-to-door religion salesmen too.

Them: "Could I talk to you about your Salvation and..."
Me: "Nah, I'm not big on Ancient Middle Eastern philosophies"

Most of the glassy-eyed True Believers have this weird cognitive dissonance that the places in their bible are in some mythical glorified parallel universe, and not the actual geographical & historical crapholes they see on CNN (or Fox) every night. I think many of them would go catatonic if they realized their savior was of the "brown people".

Edit: And Calculus & Physics was invented by an Englishman.  Far more frightening than brown people. Have you seen what they do with dentistry and automotive design?!

Last edited by rdx-fx (2012-07-30 12:32:07)

Macbeth
Banned
+2,443|4582

I think our education system is just a little too rigid, still. Basic algebra is something everyone should be expected to learn, yes. But higher levels of math are worthless to you if you do not plan to go to college. Even if you do decide to go to college you probably won't need all that higher level math you were taught. I like how the universities treat math. You take your 2 or 3 mandatory math classes picked from a list of different subjects, levels, and topic and then go do whatever else you want. High schools requiring you to take 4 years of math, like I did, when you have no aspirations to be an engineer is silly. The higher levels math courses aren't even useful to some math orientated degree paths either. Accounting majors don't need, and won't be forced, to take high level math classes.

I'm not suggesting having a two tier high school education system that prepares some people for college and others for careers in grave digging. Instead of having a one size fits all everyone needs to take xyz classes, there should be more flexibility in what you have to study at the high school level. Colleges shouldn't (and to a part already don't, it is a mixed bag for better or for worse..) set the price of admission at 4 years of math, 2 years of a foreign language, etc. Students who are great at math can pack their high school schedule with math classes and when they apply to college the colleges judge them on how good their math grades are and if they could hang at the math heavy engineering, comp sci etc. classes. Someone who is creative can pack their day with classes having to do with art and the colleges judge them on those grades and if they are able to keep up with the BFA curriculum. Students who are interested in the social sciences can pack their day with classes in that field and be judged on those grades and if they could cut it in the social science programs. Of course they still have to take their 4 years of English, 1 or 2 of math/science/history but they have a lot more freedom.

As long as there is an opportunity to move from the math to art or art to math degree tracks during college (dependent on grades, classes, ability,) there shouldn't be problem. 

jay wrote:

They've already dumbed down the English side greatly by removing the spelling and grammar components because 'they were too hard'.
I think think your education may have be sub par.
Macbeth
Banned
+2,443|4582

Ilocano wrote:

Algebra as difficult subject = discredits author.
Andrew Hacker (born 1929) is an American political scientist.

He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Queens College in New York. He did his undergraduate work at Amherst College. This was followed by graduate work at Oxford University, University of Michigan, and Princeton University where he received his PhD degree. Hacker taught at Cornell before taking his current position at Queens.
Princeton, Oxford, Amherst, Cornell hmmm obviously a moron.
eleven bravo
Member
+1,399|4255|foggy bottom
derp derp engineering is the only thing that matters derp derp.  now lets talk about my incredibly strong opinions on political issues that i have no clue about
Tu Stultus Es
Macbeth
Banned
+2,443|4582

Reminds me of a story in the NYt about some famous broadway playwright. The child had difficulty paying attention in class and was hyper. The parents were concerned and didn't know what to do. The child's teacher suggested enrolling her in dance classes to focus some of that energy. She now produces Broadway shows. It obviously isn't the norm but it goes to show you how a rigid focus on some subjects are waste of talent and potential.

Last edited by Macbeth (2012-07-30 12:39:35)

Ilocano
buuuurrrrrrppppp.......
+341|5663

Macbeth wrote:

I think our education system is just a little too rigid, still. Basic algebra is something everyone should be expected to learn, yes. But higher levels of math are worthless to you if you do not plan to go to college. Even if you do decide to go to college you probably won't need all that higher level math you were taught. I like how the universities treat math. You take your 2 or 3 mandatory math classes picked from a list of different subjects, levels, and topic and then go do whatever else you want. High schools requiring you to take 4 years of math, like I did, when you have no aspirations to be an engineer is silly. The higher levels math courses aren't even useful to some math orientated degree paths either. Accounting majors don't need, and won't be forced, to take high level math classes.

I'm not suggesting having a two tier high school education system that prepares some people for college and others for careers in grave digging. Instead of having a one size fits all everyone needs to take xyz classes, there should be more flexibility in what you have to study at the high school level. Colleges shouldn't (and to a part already don't, it is a mixed bag for better or for worse..) set the price of admission at 4 years of math, 2 years of a foreign language, etc. Students who are great at math can pack their high school schedule with math classes and when they apply to college the colleges judge them on how good their math grades are and if they could hang at the math heavy engineering, comp sci etc. classes. Someone who is creative can pack their day with classes having to do with art and the colleges judge them on those grades and if they are able to keep up with the BFA curriculum. Students who are interested in the social sciences can pack their day with classes in that field and be judged on those grades and if they could cut it in the social science programs. Of course they still have to take their 4 years of English, 1 or 2 of math/science/history but they have a lot more freedom.

As long as there is an opportunity to move from the math to art or art to math degree tracks during college (dependent on grades, classes, ability,) there shouldn't be problem. 

jay wrote:

They've already dumbed down the English side greatly by removing the spelling and grammar components because 'they were too hard'.
I think think your education may have be sub par.
Why 4 years of English?  Why should I care about the inner thoughts of some sea mammal obsessed captain?  Or someone listening to nature at Walden?  Or even the troubles of a family from Oklahoma?  It's not like any of those can be applied to any working environment.









/sarcasm.   I love reading.
Ilocano
buuuurrrrrrppppp.......
+341|5663

Macbeth wrote:

Ilocano wrote:

Algebra as difficult subject = discredits author.
Andrew Hacker (born 1929) is an American political scientist.

He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Queens College in New York. He did his undergraduate work at Amherst College. This was followed by graduate work at Oxford University, University of Michigan, and Princeton University where he received his PhD degree. Hacker taught at Cornell before taking his current position at Queens.
Princeton, Oxford, Amherst, Cornell hmmm obviously a moron.
Political Science PhD =/= math expert.





But in general, Political Science expert commenting on the need for Algebra. 
RTHKI
mmmf mmmf mmmf
+1,714|5733|Oxferd Ohire
didnt read any of those books o7
https://i.imgur.com/tMvdWFG.png
rdx-fx
...
+955|5588

eleven bravo wrote:

derp derp engineering is the only thing that matters derp derp.  now lets talk about my incredibly strong opinions on political issues that i have no clue about
You didn't pass algebra either, huh?
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+2,003|4354|London, England

Macbeth wrote:

I think our education system is just a little too rigid, still. Basic algebra is something everyone should be expected to learn, yes. But higher levels of math are worthless to you if you do not plan to go to college. Even if you do decide to go to college you probably won't need all that higher level math you were taught. I like how the universities treat math. You take your 2 or 3 mandatory math classes picked from a list of different subjects, levels, and topic and then go do whatever else you want. High schools requiring you to take 4 years of math, like I did, when you have no aspirations to be an engineer is silly. The higher levels math courses aren't even useful to some math orientated degree paths either. Accounting majors don't need, and won't be forced, to take high level math classes.

I'm not suggesting having a two tier high school education system that prepares some people for college and others for careers in grave digging. Instead of having a one size fits all everyone needs to take xyz classes, there should be more flexibility in what you have to study at the high school level. Colleges shouldn't (and to a part already don't, it is a mixed bag for better or for worse..) set the price of admission at 4 years of math, 2 years of a foreign language, etc. Students who are great at math can pack their high school schedule with math classes and when they apply to college the colleges judge them on how good their math grades are and if they could hang at the math heavy engineering, comp sci etc. classes. Someone who is creative can pack their day with classes having to do with art and the colleges judge them on those grades and if they are able to keep up with the BFA curriculum. Students who are interested in the social sciences can pack their day with classes in that field and be judged on those grades and if they could cut it in the social science programs. Of course they still have to take their 4 years of English, 1 or 2 of math/science/history but they have a lot more freedom.

As long as there is an opportunity to move from the math to art or art to math degree tracks during college (dependent on grades, classes, ability,) there shouldn't be problem. 

jay wrote:

They've already dumbed down the English side greatly by removing the spelling and grammar components because 'they were too hard'.
I think think your education may have be sub par.
Everyone is forced to take classes in college and high school that don't directly correlate with their field of study or have applications in the real world. Do I really need to know what occurred on July 1-3, 1863 or know who Telemachus was? No, not in the slightest, but someone somewhere decided that everyone that enters college should exit with at least the effort of creating a moderately well rounded scholar being made. A lot of people bitch about their non-core requirements, it's not unique to social science students and math classes.

Electives do an ok job in allowing students to pick and choose what they want to take, but math is a lot like philosophy in that it's extremely difficult to pick it up in the middle without having the foundational readings that everything has been built upon in the back of your mind. Algebra happens to be one of the building blocks that can't be pulled away because every other class after it rests upon it. Stats, calc, etc all require algebra.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Ilocano
buuuurrrrrrppppp.......
+341|5663

Jay wrote:

Algebra happens to be one of the building blocks that can't be pulled away because every other class after it rests upon it. Stats, calc, etc all require algebra.
eleven bravo
Member
+1,399|4255|foggy bottom

rdx-fx wrote:

eleven bravo wrote:

derp derp engineering is the only thing that matters derp derp.  now lets talk about my incredibly strong opinions on political issues that i have no clue about
You didn't pass algebra either, huh?
did you not go to college?
Tu Stultus Es

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