Is Algebra necessary?


#1

[LEFT][/LEFT]

rest of article can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

I read the article, and came away with several disagreements. I’m not a mathematician, but I don’t think algebra should be thrown out entirely, I think it should be taught with an emphasis on lessons/projects that places the theories in context, and shows how they can be applied to real life situations, especially for students not going into STEM fields who are wondering when/how they will ever use what they are being taught. but I think you can say the same for how we generally teach overall in pre-college education in any subject.


#2

I think overall the education system places entirely too much emphasis on math. The vast majority of jobs require the four basic functions of math, so requiring students to take advanced math provides little utility outside of funding math departments and giving math teachers jobs. In addition, math is a lot like foreign language in that you tend to lose it quickly if you don’t use it. And since most math has little value in most jobs the skill is quickly lost.

In contrast, communication, something present in virtually all jobs, is hardly emphasized in most education systems. For most students, the only communication class they ever get is Speech, and that is focused on a specific type of communication.

So why are we emphasizing advanced math so much when in most jobs it will never be used?

Why are we neglecting subjects like communication when it’s present in virtually every aspect of human life?


#3

ugh. we’re too far enough behind in science and engineering to drop fuckin ALGEBRA


#4

Fixed, though I do agree with you on teaching **Rhetoric, **the actual skilled use of the written and spoken word is severely lacking nowadays


#5

seriously

fucking kids need to get their shit together


#6

This is why we Asians are gonna be ruling the world in the not too distant future.


#7

Algebra fucked me pretty hard in high school. The first year I just didn’t get it so they made me retake it.

At which point they implemented a “standards” system, where you had to take a series of 30~ 3 question tests and get 100% on all of them or you fail the class. So even if you got a C in the class, you still needed to get 100% on these standards to pass the class. Even the teachers thought the system was stupid, because it essentially screwed over all the C students, because in the end you needed to know the material at an A level to pass these standards.

Though, I do think it is necessary to teach it in high school (even though it nearly kept me from graduating, still got by though). Learning useless things like Algebra is really good not for learning the material, but rather for learning how to learn. I think they should find some stress free way to teach it though, I lost so much sleep and nearly broke down because of that awful class.


#8

I dunno, based on that excerpt from the article, it just sounds like whining about how hard Algebra (or Math in general) is, when it is really not. That line about it being an “ordeal” just doesn’t sit well with me. Don’t tell me about impoverished kids having trouble with Math, either. I’ve taught 5th grade kids as a part of community service back in high school, and even though they were ass at English (I’m from the Philippines), they were very good at Math and were able to grasp the fundamentals of Algebra right away.

The way I see it, yes, kids just really need to get their shit together. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming the curriculum for being too difficult, how many of those students actually zone in on the problem, buckle down, and really study?


#9

This is a problem here I think. Instead of teaching Algebra just to teach people “how to learn”, students should be taught real world applications of algebra, and how they use it in their daily life, put the theory into actual practical context which would go a long way towards improving proficiency me thinks. But I think Matriarch’s right on the higher maths, I don’t think most students should be forced to learn something like Calculus for instance, and I think there’s other subjects we need to emphasize(Most important is critical thinking, actually teaching students how to think will help them much better with learning how to learn, how to communicate ideas, and how to challenge their own beliefs and others, which is precisely the problem Texas has with it.) Kids “learn” perfectly fine, they can regurgitate many facts and trivia, but that’s completely different from full on comprehension of what you’re learning and how to apply those concepts to novel situations and not just going to the back of the book for one right answer.


#10

Why are people only proud when they fail to learn math, claiming it is a useless skill? What about art? What about reading and thinking critically? What about reading fiction? What about history? What about running around a track? All of these things are skills which help a person become more intelligent.
Math is just like following instructions. If one can follow instructions, one can do math.

The abstraction of algebra is required for all jobs. From farming to retail to ordinary simple tasks. The abstract thought produced by studying algebra makes a person more efficient and self reliant. If this person is expected to operate solely on instructions and never think, then this person can function correctly without any math.

Algebra is one step above operations based on numbers, such as adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying. Generalizing arithmetic. If one learns algebra, simple tasks can become easier, such as pouring concrete or laying out seeds. One can calculate exactly how much should be required.

When dealing with unknowns, the abstract thought process that is generally used is based on Algebra. It trains your mind to find the missing links in a chain of information.
Payroll and running a business require algebra, for instance.

Patterns and unknowns. Abstraction helps us recognize these things and quickly resolve whatever sort of problem comes up.
The thought process does not degrade because it is used all too often in life, unless one sits in front of a tv screen all day.

Communication is directly related to reading and writing comprehension. Why are people so bad at this? Because it takes hard time and practice to get better at it. Just like math.

It takes hard work to get more intelligent. School should continue to be hard.

Now from some sources:
http://www.learner.org/courses/learningmath/algebra/session1/part_a/index.html
http://www.purplemath.com/modules/why_math.htm


#11

Real life isn’t a video game. If material is too hard blizzard isn’t gonna come in and nerf it. Yeah u can nerf school til it’s a joke for care bear casual scrubs, but once they hit endgame with their useless liberal arts degrees it’s gg. And Americans whine all the jobs are going overseas. Well ur kids and parents are too scrubby to pass algebra so all the scientists and engineers that drive r and d will come from elsewhere.

Fucking bads. Cry moar noobs

Sent from ur mom using my penisTalk


#12

One of the most rewarding classes I ever took in college was just simply called “Logic”. It was a requirement for my philosophy minor and is basically what you’d think a critical thinking class would be like. It taught you how to break down arguments, identify different types of logic, avoid fallacies, etc.

I strongly feel a class like that would be much more practical than teaching kids how to break down quadratics.


#13

:rofl:

The funny thing is that the education is being nerfed. If you look at the statistics, instead of seeing a normal curve for the grades, where you expect c-b to have the highest density of students, it looks like a whale now with less c students. The kids that would be c-b, are now in the b-a range and the failures are still failing, because they never give a shit about school in the first place. I learned this fact when my senile professor was going on a rant about education :rofl: .

edit: this is talking about the middle school/ high school grade level.


#14

i dont think algebra is important i just think its’ only important that our countries’ people can just at least write good, just my 2 cents though.

when do you see algebra be-ing USED in real life? we got calcalaters for that


#15

I have a source of my own too:

http://www.teachscienceandmath.com/2010/04/09/teaching-algebra-making-real-world-connections/

The point being that algebra has concrete uses in the real world that should be highlighted as part of the curriculum, not just focusing on the theory itself.


#16

I disagree. There isn’t enough emphasis on math. I find that the vast majority of time people who have trouble with basic logic/reasoning, and are just “dullards” usually suck at math. Furthermore your entire perspective on the matter is precisely whats wrong. You and those like you see it purely as a means to an end, and that’s the wrong way to look at it. Math is logic in its purest form. When properly taught and understood it’s a great tool for teaching good structured thought.

To use an analogy when athletes train they don’t solely train in skills that their sport requires. Kobe Brant doesn’t just work on dribbling, shooting and passing. He also does weight training. I can’t think of any time watching a basketball game where a player did a maneuver that resembled a lateral pull down, a low cable row, or a situp, but they do those exercises in the weight room.

The biggest problem with math is that its lack of proper teaching is a vicious cycle. People who are “good” at or understand exactly how to teach math generally don’t go into early education, and that’s when kids need to learn those skills. In very much the same way that learning a language or playing a musical instrument is best done at a very early age, so too is math as it’s a way of structuring one’s thoughts. The problem with the article is that if you haven’t gotten those skills by High School, and definitely college, it’s too late. With proper progression kids should be getting exposed to Algebra in 5th or 6th grade.


#17

I was one of those kids that got pushed into STEM because I raped my SAT Math and AP Calc/Physics tests, and because it’s constantly emphasized by politicians, parents, and schools that engineering and science is a fast track to a lucrative career (turns out I hated engineering, I’m an econ major now). How many times have you heard Obama say “we need more scientists and engineers”, compared with how many times he’s said “we need more economists/sociologists/doctors/vets/etc” (probably never) . Math and science are pretty strongly emphasized in American schools nowadays because 1. the current job market HEAVILY favors people with quantitave-based degrees and 2. we’re getting outpaced by China and India in manufacturing and technology.

Fact of the matter is though that in the future most likely the U.S. and the rest of the Western industrialized nations are going to be specializing more and more in services because let’s face it, hardly anything is manufactured in America anymore. Chinese firms are buying up American ones and actually relocating here in many cases to save on transportation costs. If you look at India, they have a whole SYSTEM of universities that provide a STEM education on par with Caltech and MIT (the Indian Institutes of Technology). Both of these nations have a large population of well-educated people that are willing to work harder and for less than the average American engineer. Culturally, China and India tend to value educational rigor and sending their kids off to whatever is a guaranteed good career, and they don’t value the creative arts or alternative education as much as we do (not a good or a bad thing, just a difference)

If the U.S. REALLY wants to compete with this, and really wants to be the #1 technological innovator like we were in the 50s, it would require at the very least a drastic overhaul of our education system and curricula. Personally I think we should stop trying to fight the tide, yes we should still have quality math education but we should stop pretending like the U.S. can realistically become #1 in technology again within 10 years with the global economy changing like this. It’s just not going to happen. It’ll be pretty ironic if a couple decades from now all those kids that were pushed into math-based careers can’t find jobs because there’s a glut of people with engineering degrees and no jobs available, and the social science majors all of a sudden have all the opportunities. It’s very likely that this will happen.

So I kind of agree with the gist of the article. I mean, everyone should know how to do a basic ratio calculation just because that stuff is useful if you’re trying to save money or whatever, but not everyone needs to know calculus. We should stop pushing it on people just because it’s hard and politicians think it’s worth knowing. Looking back, I kinda wish I had been exposed to more “soft” stuff like philosophy and psychology in high school instead.

Yeah I took logic last semester and really liked it, although imo we spent too much time on the symbolic part. I’m taking the second sequence in the fall.


#18

I hope the grammatical errors in your post were intentional.

In my opinion, algebra and, consequently, higher level mathematics should be taught earlier than they already are.


#19

As a science major, I must disagree with this view point (articles). There is not enough emphasis but in Mathematics, and its not being taught correctly neither (and as of course, a big part of the problem, which I think is the main problem, is that kids/young adults simply don’t want to learn math. Why learn Math when you can text your friend about what happened last night in Math class). Math is very boring, until the students learn to embrace, or are taught the critical thinking part of math. Math teaches one thing very well, it doesn’t teach you how to calculate or manipulate numbers to get what you want. Math teaches you critical thinking skills, which of course then extend to your every day experience. Of course, when the focus of our education system is numbers that tell us how “advanced” or “basic” said student is, student’s are not taught the 2nd layer of mathematics.


#20

Up until a certain point math is just following and memorizing instructions and nothing more. I think what the article is saying is that theory and higher math is emphasized too much at the potential expense of people who are naturally more gifted at right-brained thinking. Some people just don’t get it or hate it, that doesn’t make them an idiot. I’m naturally gifted in math just because I can see things logically and I can memorize, but I really couldn’t give a shit that a continuous function is one that is differentable anywhere. I don’t feel enlightened or more fulfilled by learning a theorem or doing a proof. If that’s what you like then great, you should have that opportunity, but don’t feel obligated to learn that if you’re more interested in other things.

Everything about our educational system is overly skewed towards math, I knew who Einstein and Newton were by elementary school, but I didn’t know who Nietzsche and Friedman were until college (I’m serious).

I’m really sick of math elitism. Just because a field of study isn’t empirical or is more ambiguous than math/physics/chemistry doesn’t make it worthless. All careers and fields of study are worth knowing about, it’s just a matter of what happens to be more lucrative in the job market at the time. Do what you like.