Is Algebra Necessary

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by jnpy!$4g3cwk, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #1
    I think I missed this editorial the first time around, but, I heard the author on the radio today and so I went back and looked it up. Increasingly, it is impossible to graduate from high school or get through the first year of community college without passing Algebra. The author asks the question, "Why?"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=1

    Now, as it happens, I really believe in the value of mathematics, and, I use algebra every day, mostly subconsciously I would say. But, in truth, most people don't. I wish everyone could see the sheer beauty of electromagnetic theory, but, it won't happen, and, you don't need to, in order to drive a bus.

    The author pleads for common sense:

    For my own part, I think high school and college math requirements should be beefed up a bit more, for science and engineering students. But, roughly 10% of jobs require algebra:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2013/09/09/are-we-misinterpreting-the-stem-crisis

    Why require heavy math of the other 90% of people?
     
  2. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    There are useful topics in math. Topics like logic and combinatorics get you to think about things. My issue with middle and high school level math is that it's incredibly mechanical. It's just plugging in values and rearranging rather than asking how something could be interpreted or showing why things work a certain way. Trigonometry comes to mind. I never had a class in it in the classical sense, as my high school math program was a weird experiment by the district. Most high school math tries to impart some sense of memorization there. What they don't do is display a true definition for functions such as sines (infinite sequence), base e notation, etc. I think the lack of cohesion makes quite a bit of it more confusing at that level. That's just me though.
     
  3. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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  4. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    I'm one of those people that struggle with math but I don't think the removal of Algebra would have a positive effect. Math is just logic applied, we need more logic and less rhetoric.
     
  5. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #5
    Algebra is essential for understanding just about everything, from technology to economics. It is a universal language. In the West we need to be teaching our kids more, not less. People in Asia know the value of education - I fear we are losing that.
     
  6. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #6
    I've never heard anyone call Algebra difficult, but that's just me. Algebra and Algebra 2 were a breeze. Calculus was where I was first challenged in high school math.

    I think math is important, regardless of your background or desired occupation. It's critical thinking and problem solving. Math is great because there's always a specific answer - if you didn't get it, you clearly screwed up, but you can fix it until you get it right.
     
  7. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #7
    The new American slogan: "when the going gets tough, change the requirements to cater to the lowest denominator"

    Wait, maybe we shouldn't use the word denominator, it may confuse some people.
     
  8. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #8
    By all means, let's keep dumbing down our society. We are so losing the future.
     
  9. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #9
    Agreed. I think the author is an idiot and the requirement to pass Algebra should stay.
     
  10. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    #10
    When I went to College back in the day I always felt Algebra should be taught in Junior High and Calculus should be in 9th grade (in the USA).
     
  11. AustinIllini macrumors demi-god

    AustinIllini

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    #11
    For some students, Algebra is the closest they'll ever get to true problem solving.
     
  12. lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #12
    I had a rough time with Calc in 13th grade. :)
     
  13. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #13
    Algebra I is "heavy math". That's hilarious.


    This country is becoming dumber and falling farther behind by the second.

    This article was just published yesterday:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/03/world/asia/pisa-education-study/

    That's right, the US education system is now ranked 36th!!! in the world in mathematics. That is horrendously terrible, laughable, embarrassing, etc etc. for a country that claims to be a "world leader".



    I know the trendy thing now for many Americans is to bash "teh liberals" for anything and everything, but at least us liberals up here in Massachusetts can actually educate our students:

    http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7886

    Yup. So the United States ranks 36th. But when you take my home state of Massachusetts and rank it alone as a country compared to the rest of the world, Massachusetts ranks 4th for reading literacy, 7th for science, and 10th for math.

    Maybe the rest of the country should start being more like us "liberals" up here in MA.
     
  14. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #14
    In your everyday life, how much do you use Algebra? Once you leave school who uses it?
     
  15. anonymouslurker macrumors regular

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    #15
    Every single day.
     
  16. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    Quite a lot actually, more than I ever thought I would.
     
  17. Michael Goff macrumors G3

    Michael Goff

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    #17
    The problem isn't what we teach, it's how we teach.
     
  18. afireintonto macrumors 6502a

    afireintonto

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    #18
    Algebra is so simple. Especially the stuff required to graduate high school.
    And college level algebra is just a repeat of algebra 3 from high school (which i took in eleventh grade).
    I think that while algebra itself is easily comprehended, forcing yourself to sit and listen is the hard part.
     
  19. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    #19
    My job is nothing more than problem solving we call it MDMP (Military Decision Making Process) it's a process that forces soldiers to think. Algebra is much the same thing it forces individuals to think.

    I'm not a STEM guy and I had to struggle in math no matter how much I studied but I apply those lessons everyday even if it's not "math".
     
  20. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

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    #20
    So the argument is:

    Most jobs don't need Algebra? Get rid of the requirement.

    So let's extend it:

    Most jobs don't need History? Get rid of the requirement.
    Most jobs don't need reading comprehension? Get rid of the requirement.
    Most jobs don't need athletic ability? Get rid of PE requirements.
    Most jobs don't need vocational skills? Get rid of the requirement.
    Most jobs don't need you to write reports or do research? Get rid of the English requirement.
    Most jobs don't need art skills? Get rid of the requirement.

    The list could go on. The simple fact is that becoming well-rounded makes for a better citizen. Someone might not use Algebra in their job, but they should know how it works so that they can function in a society where algebra is important. I don't use knowledge of US history in my job, but I'm glad I have a knowledge of it so that I can be a more competent US citizen.

    If we start playing the game of getting rid of subject requirements because you might not use the information in the workforce, you quickly get rid of the need for education at all. Now, you might argue that we don't need education, but please be aware of the extent of the argument you are making.

    It is my opinion that mandatory education has helped lift up many societies and helped to make them better. I want better education, not less of it.

    P-Worm
     
  21. MyMac1976, Dec 4, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013

    MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    #21
    I agree with almost nothing you post, but this I completely agree with. People need to be educated when leaving school that means in all disciplines both physical and mental. There is no reason a student should not be able to converse with skill about any subject at hand whether it be art, science or anything in between.

    Education is an end not solely a mean.
     
  22. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #22
    If the goal is to teach critical thinking, I agree. We don't do that at all. We are more interested in teaching to higher test scores to get better funding. That is not helping students grow.
     
  23. satcomer, Dec 4, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013

    satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    #23
    Calculus in 12th grade?! Are they actually dumbing kids down in schools today that badly?

    When I was station in Japan (during my time in the US Army) I remember being called over to my Commander's house to help his twin boys 8th grade Trigonometry (they were going to Japanese schools their whole life)! Beside if you want to get ahead in the world because IMHO this is something you will live with the rest of your life, Calculus is a great foundation !

    IMHO American kids should be channeled mathematically from 3rd grade on through graduation.
     
  24. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #24
    One example of this is History. History is a bunch of connected stories. Kids like stories. But somehow, we have managed to take those stories and turn them into something boring and unpleasant.

    Fact is, the focus of education should be in teaching kids how to learn stuff, not trying to stuff information into their heads. All the subjects have interrelated elements, if we show the kids how everything is connected to everything else, they will all but teach themselves.
     
  25. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #25
    I weep for a world that believes algebra is "heavy math."

    Learning to count is like learning the alphabet.
    Learning to add and subtract is like learning words.
    Learning algebra is like learning to make sentences.
    Anything more advanced is where the real value lies.

    If you've ever checked your bank account and figured out which bills you could and couldn't pay, you've used algebra.

    If you've ever made or used a budget, you've used algebra.

    If you've ever halved (or doubled) a recipe, you've used algebra.

    Just because it has a big fancy name doesn't mean people don't use it.
     

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