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Cohen of Washington post on H.S. math

  1. Feb 21, 2006 #1
    From Washington post:
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2006 #2
    I think basic algebra is good for someone to learn. Personally while I hated math I passed my algebra class without any problems and promptly forgot everything I learned. It may be different for me with the sorts of things that I think about but I've always wished I retained some of what I learned to help solve some of the problems I encounter.
  4. Feb 21, 2006 #3
    gah, i'm in a horrible mood from studying all weekend, and being stuck at home with only my dogs and no company, and i'm sick of writing out problems and emailing professors and working so hard... and reading this stuff makes me so mad!

    algebra is a very logical subject, of course it helps your reasoning. thats why its required. i admit that some kids just aren't as naturally inclined towards it, and that many teachers make it a difficult subject for anyone to learn, but who the hell can say you'll NEVER need algebra???!!??? Ya, america's so fantastic nowadays with all those well written thank you notes, who needs math now! all those other countries are busy learning how to solve problems, but we'll be writing the best Cosmo articles. God, why are we pressuring our children and forcing them to study such archaic subjects like math? we have computers! we don't need to think any more. arggg
  5. Feb 21, 2006 #4
    I think Math teachers are the problem.They give WAY too much homework and there terrible teachers
  6. Feb 21, 2006 #5
    Sorry, but if you cannot pass High School Algebra 1, you are a fu*king moron. I agree, though, that English is a very important subject, but history? History is the most useless subject in the world, in my opinion. I have never needed to know that John Wilkes Boothe shot Lincoln, or about Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs.
  7. Feb 21, 2006 #6

    I think stupid people are the problem. I wouldn't be surprised if this girl also failed the exit exam before they pushed the requirement back another year. I think we have a culture that overly encourages only overachievement and underachievement, with no middle ground. We have the worst averages in the developed worlds, but many of the best top performers. It makes no sense really.

    Oh, and Cohen could use with some lessons in why circular logic makes him look like an idiot. [/rant]
  8. Feb 21, 2006 #7


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    Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it...
    History as it's usually taught in high schools probably is useless, but the subject as a whole is not. I don't care so much about a bunch of dates and names of generals, but if you talk about the motivations and issues that led to certain conflicts, you can apply that to modern situations. A lot of it is about learning from past mistakes and past successes.
  9. Feb 21, 2006 #8
    I really do not see how english is usefull at all. Since grade 6 they have not taught actual english but rather english langauge arts. Essentially every class since then has been about analysing literature (poems, short stories, and novels). This is completely useless. I can see how everyone's life can be enriched by knowledge of mathematics, science, and history, and literacy, but being able to interpret poetry is only desirable if you are going to be an english major in university. English is the only class for which I can say that, despite maintaining good marks in it, I have not learned ANYTHING from it in the last 6 years. What is even worse is that english language arts is given precedence in most schools.
  10. Feb 21, 2006 #9


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    If the number of people fail high school because they fail these math courses is such that there aren't enough high school graduates for businesses to hire, then they'll start hiring these people who fail. This won't change the number of jobs that companies hire for, so if it's ruining the lives of people who do poorly in school, it is improving the lives of those who do well. That might be good for the individual and good for the economy as a whole, because it (supposedly) puts better educated people in the work force, and it increases the incentive to be well-educated for the individual. That said, this policy is only as good as the education system, i.e. the actual value of being educated by the existing education system (to the individual and to the economy).
  11. Feb 21, 2006 #10
    Ok I guess we need to define history. Because yes, my personal history is useful to me. I can also see history being useful in the sense that a chemist could look back and see what other chemist did and not make the same mistakes, but this is not history, instead it is common sense. What I mean by history, is what the guy in the article is talking about, high school history (what I am thinking of is US History and maybe World History).

    Is there anything in those classes (US/World History), at all, that would be useful to your average joe? I can see maybe reading up on history if I was going to run a country, or if I was planning to conquer some nation, but how is that going to help me support my family and live my life? Unless you are getting at some sort of abstract sense of History being useful in that it may bring personal happiness?

    If he, the article writer, wants to get at the idea of usefullness to the whole population, then one can live without knowing anything (except maybe how to speak and read, which is easily picked up by the end of elementary school for most). My grandma cannot write proper english sentences, does not know math, history, science, or anything and lives a perfectly fine happy life with knowing only how to speak and read (unless you want to talk about knowing things that are not academic, ie, driving). So why bother teaching anything once we know how to read and write?

    It seems to me that the guy who wrote the article wants to live before we knew math, personally I don't. I like computers, cars, buildings, typewriters, and everything else that we have invented from math in some sense or another, I don't want to live as the cavemen did.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2006
  12. Feb 21, 2006 #11
    Politics. All citizens should be prepared to be active members of their society and understand it's politics. How does one understand the politics of their country if they have no idea of it's history?
  13. Feb 21, 2006 #12
    In my opinion, if nothing else, MATH is the main thing you want to come out of high school knowing, even if it is only up to the pre-calc level. Hopefully she gets serious and enrolls in a community college so that she can have a real teacher and real students who don't act like clowns in class. At the same time, you really have to try to fail basic algebra 6 times. Even foreign kids who don't speak english pass algebra. (but that is usually because they come from a real school system in their country :biggrin:)
  14. Feb 21, 2006 #13

    This is the same short-sighted thinking that makes Cohen say algebra is worthless. "If I didn't really learn anything from it, it must be worthless, because the value of something revolves around what I gained from it".
  15. Feb 21, 2006 #14
    That is the problem.Where pushing students way too far maybe we should go a bit slower in High school but go faster in elemtary school and middle school(but that would go slower then elemtary school since middle school soppesed one of the toughfest stages in a students life).So that way when the students are at elemtary they would learn multipaction and divison in the 1st maybe 2nd grade which would mean that would less things in high school.During High school it will go slower so that the harder math gets studied more.Reason why I think that is that if youngers kids can learn langues better when the young it could the same for math and other subjects.
  16. Feb 21, 2006 #15
    That is a good application, have any others of the top of your head?

    If I am truly ignorant in this regard please inform me.
  17. Feb 21, 2006 #16

    I disagree completely. Taking the egotistical, statistically insignificant, and generally irrelevant example of myself, I struggled with arithmetic math in elementary school but have had little trouble with "concept" math, from calculus onwards.

    Two things: Longer school hours, and MORE homework. Look at every school system that does better than hours, and on the surface, these are two significant differences. We go to school less, and we work on schoolwork less outside of school.
  18. Feb 21, 2006 #17
    What more is needed? This is the single most important reason why history ought to be taught and studied and it definitely is not a negligible matter.
  19. Feb 21, 2006 #18
    Yes I understand, what I am asking, however, is are there any other uses?

    Here is another question: How has who you voted for in an election been influence by your knowledge of history? And when I say history I mean something you learned in a High School/College US/World History class.

    I can say that looking at what George W Bush did in his first 4 years of president influenced me to not vote for him in his second term, but that did not require any knowledge of what is taught in a High School/College US/World History class, at least where I go to school (granted I have taken only four college history classes, three of which were lower, freshman, level).
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2006
  20. Feb 21, 2006 #19
    You mean besides knowing what the human species is and how it got to be that way?
  21. Feb 21, 2006 #20
    Are you talking about the human species in the biological sense? Because I don't remember that stuff in any of the history classes I have taken. Or are you talking about what defines our civilization, and our culture? In which case, I would have to ask what is the use of such information?
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