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Is Algebra Necessary?

  1. Jul 30, 2012 #1
    "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
     
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  3. Jul 30, 2012 #2

    arildno

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    The great thing about algebra is that it mercilessly weeds out those who do not have the capacity to think in properly abstractways.
    That is why algebra should be kept in school. :smile:
     
  4. Jul 30, 2012 #3

    AlephZero

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I don't think the problem is that 30% or 43% of kids aren't being taught to be "proficient" (whatever that means).

    The bigger problem is the mindset that 100% of kids should capable of achieving 100% success at anything they want.
     
  5. Jul 30, 2012 #4
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I dont tink spellling iz neccasery eether. And neether gramer.
     
  6. Jul 30, 2012 #5

    arildno

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Yes.
    It is the hatred of reality, and actually, hatred of existing humanity as such which is the biggest problem.
    Both extreme liberalists and extreme communists cannot conceive of human beings other than tabulae rasa onto which anything can be written, with no inherent limitations.
     
  7. Jul 30, 2012 #6

    arildno

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Dits nott, ju fuul!
     
  8. Jul 30, 2012 #7

    chiro

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I remember George Carlin talking about this kind of thing and he mentioned that soon enough, the standards will be lowered until all it takes to get into university is a pencil.

    I don't think he was too far off the mark with the comment to be honest (in terms of the general direction of education, not so much the specifics of his predictions).
     
  9. Jul 30, 2012 #8
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I think the problem is in how mathematics is introduced to young kids. We pretty much loose at least half of them from the start. Not because those kids are dumb or anything, but just because they are introduced to the subject without any context or purpose.

    We should incorporate mathematics in other subjects. Woodshop, sports, etc comes to mind.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  10. Jul 30, 2012 #9

    phyzguy

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Right. By the logic of the article, why teach anything? Do you use literature on the job? Or history? I had to work to learn lots of dates in my history class in high school, and I never in my job needed to know that Rome fell on 476AD. Why was I forced to go through this "pain"? With this attitude being espoused in a major newspaper, I fear that America's future will not be what any of us want.
     
  11. Jul 30, 2012 #10

    arildno

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    1. Why have a falsified premise regarding humanity? Most humans ARE dumb, with highly limited capacity for abstract thinking (i.e, they are..dumb). Simply because abstract thinking is a non-adaptive, and quite probaly, COUNTER-adaptive trait in general.
    2. those who need woodshop or sports in order to learn maths won't ever accomplish much in maths.
     
  12. Jul 30, 2012 #11

    chiro

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    That is a great idea: the only thing is that it to get it done, you would need a lot of cross-discipline co-ordination for this kind of thing but it is a good suggestion in so many ways.

    The first way is that since people tend to naturally gravitate to their interests (even if it takes a little while or requires a nudge), then obviously the relevance of something, even cross-disciplinary (like your suggestion) will be a lot higher, more meaningful, and something that will not just be appreciated, but retained and more than likely used (isn't this what education is partly about?)

    The kind of thing you are suggesting sounds almost like a slightly modified apprentice-ship where cross-disciplinary skills are introduced out of relevance: the normal apprentice-ship is based out of need, but there's probably a very blurry line between the two.

    I have a question though for you: The thing about the education system is that measures are taken to attempt to standardize in some way, the levels for demonstration of particular skillsets or knowledge foundations for things like technical colleges, universities, other non-technical colleges, and even in some respect for people that are looking to get entry level work.

    My question to you is how you would deal with the standardization in a cross-disciplinary system of learning: If skills were to be recognized how would they be recognized? How would this be affected system-wide for recognition of training for tertiary institutions? How would it be co-ordinated?

    Again I think it's a great idea, I'm just curious on your own take to these questions.
     
  13. Jul 30, 2012 #12
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Complete nonsense.

    I'm talking about young kids age 5-6 or whatever. After a while, it can become a subject on it's own.

    Most kids get scared and are forever lost to mathematics. Again, not because they are stupid, but because we teach them arithmetic and algebra the wrong way. The human mind is not meant to be so excact and it sure is no fun. My sister is a perfect example, we are both quite intelligent but she says stuff like 'I hate math' etc while I love the stuff. But I only started loving it in my adult life. I had to find a purpose, and that was computer programming and simulations. When I was a kid, I hated it as well.

    But whatever, by your logic, I'm dumb as door, allthough my IQ is around 145. Not that It matters to me much....
     
  14. Jul 30, 2012 #13
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Yeah, I didn't say it would be easy to do, and I don't really know the answers to your questions. The reason I'm saying it, is that mathematics can be found in EVERY single subject you might learn about. And I'm saying this as a way to not scare kids off from the start and gently introduce them to math so that they understand it's usefull. How many times have we heard kids ask their teacher: 'Why do I need to learn this' ?
     
  15. Jul 30, 2012 #14
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I tend also to take the pessimistic stance on this issue - the fact that most people are bad at math is because most people are in fact quite stupid and unable to mentally adapt to unfamiliar concepts.

    There has to be a huge cultural component to this though. If you compare American scores to, say, Chinese scores, the gap can't be genetics. I think that most Americans are stupid because of the culture they're born into, which is I suppose is a compromise to the completely pessimistic viewpoint because at least then you leave open the possibility that the problem can be addressed.

    Honestly though there's no reason in my opinion to assume it will ever improve in America, and I think as time goes by the Asian and European countries will simply pass the U.S. in technological superiority and the U.S. will lose its position in the world, and yet another cycle of power will begin.
     
  16. Jul 30, 2012 #15

    arildno

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    It is not a particularly weighty counter-argument against genetics, although it MIGHT be true.
    A reservation:

    Each gene is probably involved in many, many phenotypic properties. Thus, some genes of higher prevalence in one ethnic group might well influence human properties we wouldn't have dreamt of was relevant for it.

    Local requirements of adaptivity may have had non-adaptive consequences on other areas of life, due to the multifunctionality of a given gene variant, in which only one of those functions is what triggers natural selection to prefer it.
     
  17. Jul 30, 2012 #16
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Statistics like the ones mentioned in the original post can only be explained by bad teachers, it's impossible that such a large population couldn't master the simple subject of algebra because not everyone is "meant for it" as I've seen a few people already say in this thread.. It's pretty basic really..
     
  18. Jul 30, 2012 #17

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    Only if you eat your corn-on-the-cob horizontally.

    :biggrin:
     
  19. Jul 30, 2012 #18
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    I think there is a bit of a catch-22 here, considering we are on a physics forum.....

    But I agree with your point.
     
  20. Jul 30, 2012 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    We should be teaching Intelligent Design and not Algebra. Seems pretty clear to me. :biggrin:
     
  21. Jul 30, 2012 #20
    Re: "Is Algebra Necessary?"

    This man is a genius.
     
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