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2012-07-30 -Short Attention Span Theater-
Is Algebra Necessary?
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Posted by Fred 2012-07-30 00:00|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [480 views ]  Top

#1 Wizard of Oz: Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.

So with modern accredited professional education, everyone gets a diploma! /sarc off
Posted by Procopius2k 2012-07-30 00:12||   2012-07-30 00:12|| Front Page Top

#2 There's no f*ckin jobs for them anyway, even if the little dullards do pass algebra.
So quit yur bitchin.
Posted by bigjim-CA 2012-07-30 00:31||   2012-07-30 00:31|| Front Page Top

#3 The only reason these teachers want to avoid teaching algebra is because they don't know it themselves. They may know faddish educational theory, but not the subject matter they claim they can teach.

They should be ashamed of themselves for asking this question. As a personal note, I learned algebra from a high school textbook an uncle gave me when I was 7 years old; I don't understand why people have so much difficulty with it.
Posted by Eric Jablow  2012-07-30 00:32||   2012-07-30 00:32|| Front Page Top

#4 Algebra is neither hard to learn nor difficult to teach. It merely requires practice. Spend 15 minutes a day doing homework and anyone of normal mental ability will master the subject in a few months.

The only people who do not learn algebra are people who do not do the required work. And those people are properly called lazy, rather than otherwise talented.

It is right and appropriate for schools that appreciate learning and expect their students to do something while in attendance to set up admissions standards that exclude potential students who are lazy. It is better for the schools and better for the lazy students.
Posted by rammer 2012-07-30 00:56||   2012-07-30 00:56|| Front Page Top

#5 OWG-NWO > akin to SPACE GOVT-ORDER. We are organizing the Planet to prepare for deep psace. exploration + colonization, ideally hopefully millenias before the Sun explodes to Red Giant phase.

The day is coming when Algebra, etc. lower-order courses won't even be taught at the University or Secondary-level, but at Middle-School or LOWER. THE MSM-NET LIKES TO REPORT ON THE ACADEMIC PRESSURES = STRESS TO SUCCEED PUT ON JAPANESE + OTHER ASIAN STUDENTS - POST-2050 OR 2080, DON'T BE SURPRISED IFF THE SYSTEMS ARE HIGHLY SIMILAR.

The "Star" in today's "Star Schools" may no longer refer to quality or qualitative achievements or conditions, but to Space-oriented curriculas + institutions.

Posted by JosephMendiola 2012-07-30 01:00||   2012-07-30 01:00|| Front Page Top

#6 Various ethnic cultural studies venues are much easier and help to solidify the students predisposition to victimization and entitlement. Accounting and physics are hard as well. I strongly recommend cultural studies, a few very basic computer science courses, and basketball.
Posted by Besoeker 2012-07-30 03:47||   2012-07-30 03:47|| Front Page Top

#7 Anybody trying to figure out which of two items in the grocery store is a better buy is using algebraic methods. It's the intuitive way to find known unknowns.

Eric dear, you are rather a special case. ;-) But there's no reason children can't be taught the concepts of algebra alongside basic arithmetic, just as they are taught set theory.
Posted by trailing wife 2012-07-30 05:39||   2012-07-30 05:39|| Front Page Top

#8 Math/science intelligence >is intelligence. Practical mechanical ability is intelligence. The rest is philosophizing and BS.

What the hell are kids who flunked math or didn't take it in high school doing applying to college anyways? Their parents and guidance counselors are letting them down. The colleges should mail back their applications and fees summarily and tell the kids to reapply when their math grades justify it. Or they should go another way in life.

The truth is, degrees in the humanities/social "sciences" aren't that hard to get. I get tired of education or humanities majors who are devoid of any real math or statistics skills preening about their "degrees" which a chimp could have gotten. They may be well spoken, good people and they may be good at being moms or at some specific task for which they were hired at some government job, but the math skill stuff separates, in the end.

When I started in the chemistry track at a top school not too many decades ago, by the end of the four basic semesters almost 70% of ostensibly "smart" people couldn't do the work, from lack of brains, lack of work ethic, or both, and dropped out to become psychology majors etc. I don't imagine kids are magically more intelligent now.

When I left for college from a highly ranked small town public high school 30 years ago only about 45% of my class actually even matriculated at a two or four year college, and a good chunk of these didn't graduate with four year degrees. That "only" 58% are graduating from one now in the era of grade inflation, incompetent professors, and matchbook cover degrees, is not surprising and I can't imagine whence cometh the "chagrin". Also, I'd be willing to bet a lot of those degrees that actually are accomplished are in BS fields which do nothing to enhance either the employment chances of the graduate nor his ability to understand the world and our civilization.
Posted by no mo uro 2012-07-30 05:57||   2012-07-30 05:57|| Front Page Top

#9 In high school I was subjected to an 'experimental' math program. As a result I completely bombed out when I took math courses at university, because my algebra and trigonometery was weak.

I apparently had the lowest score in the uni year one pure math test.

The upside is my grasp of statistics is pretty good.

Posted by phil_b 2012-07-30 05:59||   2012-07-30 05:59|| Front Page Top

#10 I had to check the article date wasn't April the 1st.
Posted by Bright Pebbles 2012-07-30 07:35||   2012-07-30 07:35|| Front Page Top

#11 Nearly the same thing happened to me Phil, but I blamed raging hormones and alcohol.
Posted by Besoeker 2012-07-30 07:41||   2012-07-30 07:41|| Front Page Top

#12 Funny in Facebook I often see some math questions such as 2 + 3 X 4. Its amazing how many people get the *wrong* number and insist it is right - just because they don't understand some basic rules (in this case MDAS - Multiply, Divide then Add, Subtract).

I guess 'woman studies', 'minority studies', etc... might not need it. And that is what they are pushing now.
Posted by CrazyFool 2012-07-30 08:08||   2012-07-30 08:08|| Front Page Top

#13 Someone has to do it.
Posted by Procopius2k 2012-07-30 08:29||   2012-07-30 08:29|| Front Page Top

#14 I'm waiting for the government to learn algebra for me.
Posted by Matt 2012-07-30 08:46||   2012-07-30 08:46|| Front Page Top

#15 The issue with moonbat liberal degrees is that there is no real math courses required. Math is a thought process, it is logic and understanding order and effect, algebra is the perfect tool. Without order and logic, derived from teaching math, you get people who think without reason or logic. People who embrace Hamas and cant tie them to womens rights.
Posted by 49 Pan 2012-07-30 09:02||   2012-07-30 09:02|| Front Page Top

#16 It is if Algebra has electrolites.
Posted by swksvolFF 2012-07-30 09:03||   2012-07-30 09:03|| Front Page Top

#17 Algebra teaches you two things: Calculating and thinking.

Not required for politicians
Posted by European Conservative 2012-07-30 10:10||   2012-07-30 10:10|| Front Page Top

#18 Matt for snark of the day!
Posted by Broadhead6 2012-07-30 11:06||   2012-07-30 11:06|| Front Page Top

#19 Apparently algebra is both racist & sexist.
Posted by g(r)omgoru 2012-07-30 11:11||   2012-07-30 11:11|| Front Page Top

#20 (Rant) From 7th to 11th grade, I had one good math teacher, one so-so teacher, one football coach who had to justify his existence when football season wasn't on, didn't like teaching girls; and a four-door brass-plated bitch who ridiculed students. Shredded us. One of my history teachers, the worst teacher I had for any subject anywhere, had been a math teacher. Scuttlebutt said the school district discovered he was incompetent only after they granted him tenure, so they put him in History, where they felt he could do less damage.

I bombed Algebra three times. Took it in summer school after 11th grade, with all the burnouts. I just wanted to learn the blasted thing. Summer school teacher was happy to have a student who wanted to learn, and gave me a lot of help. Pulled off a B. Can't remember how to factor an equation, but at lease I got the mental exercise.

The Humanities (as taught by Dominican Sisters at my college thirty-odd years ago) provided excellent training in analysis, logic, research, and supporting a thesis. I suspect these skills are no longer properly taught in a lot of places.
(end rant)
Posted by mom 2012-07-30 11:27||   2012-07-30 11:27|| Front Page Top

#21 Hacker is a poly science retired professor. His arguments seem specious to me. It is like arguing that engineers don't need English language skills. Even in poly sci, research requires a knowledge of algebra. Algebra is a foundation for nearly every other hard science or mathematics-based area of study such as engineering. One only has to look around to realize there has been a steady dumbing down of curricula in universities with such things as PC-related areas of study.

I doubt that you would find such arguments put forth in India, Germany, Israel, Russia or other countries.
Posted by JohnQC 2012-07-30 11:53||   2012-07-30 11:53|| Front Page Top

#22 I remember wondering why it was necessary. I remember asking and not getting any good answers. OK. I'm lazy. I want to know what's in it for me. They either couldn't tell me or they were too lazy themselves to bother.

The schools suck and it isn't going to get any better until some of these teachers' unions and educational establishment types get hit upside the head, figuratively speaking of course, as in cut the damn budgets. They're way too comfortable in their positions and see no need for change. But that's what has to change.

Some kids will learn math either because they're brilliant of because they don't question authority and just do what they're told. Most kids aren't like that. All they want is a frickin' job and when the schools don't show them how to go about getting it they lose interest.

Look at the average high school graduate. Most of them are good for absolutely nothing. They're looking at

1) at least four years of college (maybe not so bad if your daddy has big bucks but mine didn't)

2) some kind of private trade school

3) flipping hamburgers, washing cars or cleaning toilets

4) going into the military

5) making babies and going on welfare or

6) living a life of crime.

It takes way too long to get through school because you have to slog through all the crap. Cut the crap and show these kids how they can get jobs.
Posted by Ebbang Uluque6305 2012-07-30 12:44||   2012-07-30 12:44|| Front Page Top

#23 You learn math or all you learn is lies.
Posted by Rob Crawford 2012-07-30 13:03||   2012-07-30 13:03|| Front Page Top

#24 4) going into the military

Don't count on it. Check StrategyPage.

Why are so many young Americans too stupid to be soldiers. A fourth of potential American military recruits can't join because they are too fat. That got some media attention. But the fact that a quarter of high school graduates who tried to join failed the written exam attracted less attention. The main reason for this is that fact that most of the uneducated high school grads are minorities (mainly blacks and Hispanics) from urban schools. Those schools are failure factories controlled by teachers unions, bureaucrats who are willing to sacrifice education for jobs and more benefits. You do not want to mess with teachers unions, as they have a lot of political clout and can make life miserable for mainstream journalists and their editors. What is scarier about the failure rate of high school grads is that the armed forces entrance exam tests for skills common to most civilian jobs. Survey civilian employers, and you will find that they see the same failure rate among applicants who are high school grads.
Posted by Procopius2k 2012-07-30 13:19||   2012-07-30 13:19|| Front Page Top

#25 You learn math or all you learn is lies.

Yes. I understand that now. But try telling it to a 15 year old.
Posted by Ebbang Uluque6305 2012-07-30 13:38||   2012-07-30 13:38|| Front Page Top

#26 #24, scary P2k. Didn't something like that happen to the Romans?
Posted by Ebbang Uluque6305 2012-07-30 13:40||   2012-07-30 13:40|| Front Page Top

#27 Math can be tough, especially if you have sub-par teachers. There were a few math classes I had (H.S. algebra and then Calc I in college as I recall) that I litterally had to teach myself the material and just grind out the courses with B's & C's. I remember taking H.S. physics and that was another grinder for me. Finished w/a mediocre grade, not because the instructor wasn't good but because I didn't apply myself at all -- too busy looking at the ladies & doing beer math in my head as beso alluded to.

I was a C.J. maj in college and am now a Marine officer. I would say that no matter your vocation an understanding of math up through calculus is extremely important to a well-rounded education. I would like to see our schools invest twice as much time into the math curriculum that they do now. I know I will be pushing the importance of algebra & logical thought on to my kids.
Posted by Broadhead6 2012-07-30 13:47||   2012-07-30 13:47|| Front Page Top

#28 2 + 3 X 4 = 3,4,*,2,+

Posted by Bright Pebbles 2012-07-30 14:04||   2012-07-30 14:04|| Front Page Top

#29 Test: If one African leader of a country can piss off approximately one half of the US and two thirds of the world, calculate the odds of his name being Ogabe and not Mugabe.
Posted by Tarzan Spairt4671 2012-07-30 14:38||   2012-07-30 14:38|| Front Page Top

#30 The US needs to have a career course that seperates out those that don't intend to go to college. We should allow folks to tranfer to trade schools after two years of high school instead of trapping them until they are 18.

You might find a lot of thugs and trouble-makers suddenly have a purpose and clean up their act rather than suffer through classes that really have no application to the rest of their life.
Posted by rjschwarz 2012-07-30 15:00||   2012-07-30 15:00|| Front Page Top

#31 In one of Robert Heinlein's "juvenile" stories, the teenage hero expresses surprise that not everyone knows calculus. As far a he is concerned, you should need calculus to get a driver's license.

But then, Heinlein looked down on most of humanity.
Posted by Rambler in Virginia 2012-07-30 15:02||   2012-07-30 15:02|| Front Page Top

#32 try explaining your RPN (reverse polish) HP calculator operations to a junior high schooler...
Posted by Frank G 2012-07-30 15:08||   2012-07-30 15:08|| Front Page Top

#33 Hey Laurence of the Rats and i loved RPN hp calcs in late elementary and jr high. Course we were a bit odd
Posted by Silentbrick - Halliburton Lost Drill Bit Division  2012-07-30 15:39||   2012-07-30 15:39|| Front Page Top

#34 The US needs to have a career course that seperates out those that don't intend to go to college. We should allow folks to tranfer to trade schools after two years of high school instead of trapping them until they are 18.

That would shut down the feeder system the universities have set up to sustain their own existence. Since they control the 'accreditation' process for 'professional educators', it will not happen.

About the only way around it, would be for business to start thinking of employees as assets rather than liabilities. Then create the equivalent of financially sponsored/subsidized 'farm team' schools to feed their labor needs.

The model is there. Who teaches kids to be the techies the military needs? The military training centers. Business can start earlier at 15 or 16. Find a friendly system [obviously one not dominated by the teachers unions] to join with.
Posted by Procopius2k 2012-07-30 16:06||   2012-07-30 16:06|| Front Page Top

#35 I still have an HP48G, an HP16C I picked up at a flea market, and my trusty HP15C calculator that I have had forever. They all still work, flawlessly - the 16C will even handle 63 bit words. Those things are solid.
Posted by OldSpook 2012-07-30 16:36||   2012-07-30 16:36|| Front Page Top

#36 64 bit. Typo. PIMF
Posted by OldSpook 2012-07-30 16:37||   2012-07-30 16:37|| Front Page Top

#37 "In high school I was subjected to an 'experimental' math program. As a result I completely bombed out when I took math courses at university, because my algebra and trigonometery was weak."

I've got one kid in middle school and one kid in high school in CA. Have to say that I just do not understand who designs the math curriculum, or why it's put together the way it is,. It makes no sense. I don't blame half of the kids for rebelling or not getting it ... the coursework is sometimes bizxarre, the teaching is mediocre, and the students get burned out. If we keep this up, no kids ni the USA are gonna want to do any math.
Posted by Raider 2012-07-30 16:41||   2012-07-30 16:41|| Front Page Top

#38 Perserverance: slogging one's way through a difficult class to its end, hopefully with a passing grade.

Language, in this case USA Academic English, is important as well. I took a math class in University I had already had CP Prep High School, aced HS but had a miserable time at college...for both our sakes English was not his first language, and what he did speak was not Standard Academic, it makes it tough to teach and learn when verbs and nouns and adjectives keep switching places.
Posted by swksvolFF 2012-07-30 16:49||   2012-07-30 16:49|| Front Page Top

#39 Any computer programmer uses "algebra" casually. Any engineer uses it casually.

Usually the people who can't figure why they need algebra aren't too sure why foreigners don't speak English like everybody else does.
Posted by Fred 2012-07-30 17:46||   2012-07-30 17:46|| Front Page Top

#40 I got a Stack of RPN books Pop told me to Push.

Posted by Bright Pebbles 2012-07-30 18:18||   2012-07-30 18:18|| Front Page Top

#41 I've still got the slide rule that was mandated for freshman engineering. Calculators were not accepted/permitted until junior year (1970).

'course we used to lug around boxes of punch cards as well. Then someone showed us Lotus123....
Posted by manversgwtw 2012-07-30 18:48||   2012-07-30 18:48|| Front Page Top

#42 I got a slide rule too - genuine K&E. I figure after the fall of civilization, I'll still be able to do trigonometry and fast math with 3 significant digits. Metal ends and precision slide. Got an E6-B as well, electronics and nav gizmos may fail, but the E6-B and Jeppeson paper charts will not.

Hey, slide rules pretty much got us to the moon - of course you have to understand the problem set and problem solving, and not just poke "data" into a magic box.
Posted by OldSpook 2012-07-30 19:43||   2012-07-30 19:43|| Front Page Top

#43 Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.

Posted by BrerRabbit 2012-07-30 20:16||   2012-07-30 20:16|| Front Page Top

#44 I used my K&E until I was wealthy enough to realize that the amount it was misaligned was about the width of a <euphemism> lady's private parts </euphemism> hair, which if you have ever used a slide rule you know is too much, and once you know, you spend your money on a cheap calculator and expensive jewelery rather than a new slide rule.

Seriously though, every student would be better off by actually observing that logarithms are the (unique) operator that transforms multiplication/division into addition/subtraction. A slide rule physically displays the subtle elegance of the concept of a mathematical operator and prepares one to appreciate the mathematical operators that form the basis of the calculus.

Not that everyone needs to learn the calculus, but it is a technology that is more than three centuries old and logarithms a technology from previous century, yet somehow those are too hard and we should skip them and instead push computers into the classroom?
Posted by rammer 2012-07-30 21:44||   2012-07-30 21:44|| Front Page Top

#45 If you do not know basic algebra you will not get an analyst job offer from the company I work for. We require not only solving the algrebric equation but we require you to create the formula to solve the business case problem. And to prevent those from getting lucky we require you top pass two different cases inorder to get a job offer. About 3 in 10 pass both cases and all have at least one degree and ~50% have an advanced degree.
Posted by airandee 2012-07-30 22:07||   2012-07-30 22:07|| Front Page Top

#46 if you do not know basic algebra you will not get an analyst job
So algebra is the pons asinorum?
Posted by tipper 2012-07-30 23:28||   2012-07-30 23:28|| Front Page Top

#47 Homeschoolers laugh at people who can't do algebra.
Posted by Iblis 2012-07-30 23:29||   2012-07-30 23:29|| Front Page Top

23:58 JosephMendiola
23:43 JosephMendiola
23:34 Thing From Snowy Mountain
23:30 mojo
23:29 Iblis
23:28 tipper
23:26 JosephMendiola
22:52 Iblis
22:46 Mullah Richard
22:18 Barbara
22:07 airandee
21:50 Besoeker
21:45 Mike Kozlowski
21:44 rammer
21:39 Frank G
21:33 swksvolFF
21:24 Pappy
20:56 Thing From Snowy Mountain
20:47 Thing From Snowy Mountain
20:43 JosephMendiola
20:41 Barbara
20:40 JosephMendiola
20:30 Barbara
20:27 Frank G

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