Should I double up on math courses next school year?

  • #1
p3ntag0nE_hoU53
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TL;DR Summary: Passionate about math and excels at it, wants to be challenged but prefers the chaotic enviorment of my peers on the standard track

Hi there! I am currently a high school freshman in algebra 1B and I love it, but i find it very easy and slow-paced. I understand concepts quickly. Each concept feels like the teacher takes years to teach. I've also been get As in every assignment. My school uses this online program called mathia, which is something to do when we finish work early. There are also dedicated days of mathia once a week. I keep completing all my mathia workspaces and my teacher gives me more to the point where i'm done with geometry A mathia. (my school splits courses into parts A/B) (fyi my school teaches trig in geo. B)

I find the world of math fascinating. I really don't like how "limited" math class feels. I want to explore more math concepts. Each math class I enter already knowing a lot of the concepts, so I don't feel like i learn much. I really want to learn more, but I don't want to feel like schools is limiting my potential.

I'd love to take algebra 2 next school year, but I wouldn't call myself a fan of the people there. The other incoming sophomores taking algebra 2 aren't as interesting compared to the ones taking geometry. They seem to want to get into a good college or smth, so they study hard and quietly in class, which i admire their grit. However, my taste in friends wildly differ from those on the acclerated math track. They vibe with people like themselves, while i vibe with the opposite kind. I thrive in loud, chaotic enviorments and i made a few friends on the standard math track. A lot of my best school memories in recent history are from math classes. If i choose to double up on math courses, i won't be in my friends' algebra 2 class junior year, but i'll be in pre-calc with the quiet, smart kids, and i don't like working in quiet enviorments.

Another thing to mention about the people in my potential algebra 2 class if i do choose to double up. My brother who is 2 years older than me isn't the best at math (he nearly failed math classes multiple times, but never actually failed). I'm afraid people will compare me to him and make fun of him for not being "good at math" in comparison to his younger sibling. I do not want to be the reason why he'll get made fun of. In my potential algebra 2 class, there will be incoming seniors like my brother. I guess you would consider him a popular kid- being on the homecoming and prom courts. My brother has many acquaintances, including those in my potential algebra 2 class.

I really do not want to miss my peers on the standard track by doubling up on math. I like helping those that need help, and it's a fun, loud, chaotic enviorment. Idk why but i work better in such enviorments as opposed to quiet classrooms.
 
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  • #2
You can always learn mathematics on your own and mathematics is especially suited for that. You can always get a helping hand here if you're stuck somewhere. But be prepared that mathematics will be different from how it is taught at school. The hidden risk in your question is that you could find challenges that were too difficult to tackle, yet.

My suggestions are:
  1. Look up the problems in the pdf files in
    https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/solution-manuals-for-the-math-challenges.977057/
    and search for the label "HS".
  2. Root around our INSIGHT BLOG articles on mathematical subjects and see if you find a specific subject of your interest.
  3. Learn in advance what will serve you if you will once study a STEM field. The search keys to begin with are "calculus 1 + pdf" and "linear algebra 1 + pdf". The "+ pdf" part makes sure you land on university servers and not on private homepages. But this can be tricky since it is really different from what you are likely used to.
  4. Open threads in
    https://www.physicsforums.com/forums/math-proof-training-and-practice.296/
    and ask for a specific technique or term you want to learn.
There are also freely available books on https://openstax.org/subjects/math but they are what I would call boring. However, they are free, so looking at them and see where you're at doesn't do any harm.
 
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  • #3
p3ntag0nE_hoU53 said:
I'd love to take algebra 2 next school year, but I wouldn't call myself a fan of the people there. The other incoming sophomores taking algebra 2 aren't as interesting compared to the ones taking geometry. They seem to want to get into a good college or smth, so they study hard and quietly in class, which i admire their grit. However, my taste in friends wildly differ from those on the acclerated math track. They vibe with people like themselves, while i vibe with the opposite kind. I thrive in loud, chaotic enviorments and i made a few friends on the standard math track.
Class is class. You don't have to "vibe" with your classmates. You're there to learn the material. Outside of class time is your time to socialize with your like minded peers. I mean realistically speaking how much time out of your day is one period of class anyway and is your goal not also to "get into a good college" (and if not, why not)? Not taking the class and sticking with the standard math track because you don't "vibe" with the kids in the accelerated track seems rather short thinking to me.

As for thriving in loud, chaotic environments, I'm first of all sceptical of that claim, and secondly I'm not aware of any pedagogical approaches to teaching that encourages that style of classroom management. It's more likely that classes you're in that are like that are because the students in them are not serious or focused on their studies, unlike those in the accelerated math track. You're hanging with the slackers and trouble makers and you may want to consider if that's really the peer group you want to stick with and emulate. You may only be in first year of high school, but it's not too early to start thinking about your plans for the future. Someone with your math ability has the potential to go far, but it means taking your education seriously. You're in school to learn. Don't waste your talent and opportunities by holding yourself back in order to stay with your friends who don't share your aptitude or potential. Don't short change yourself because you see excelling as nerdy or boring. Give the accelerated math kids a chance. You may find that you have more in common with them than you think.
 
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  • #4
Ok so i made my decision and i decided to double up with geometry and algebra 2. I'm going to be brutally honest here- i doubt a good chunk of my friends will even make it to algebra 2 junior year and even less will take precalc in high school. If my friends pass algebra 1 this year, i may still see them in geometry next year. I will make sure to sign up for the same courses my friends do for junior year.
 
  • #5
One thing to think about is really nailing down the fundamentals and understanding the "why" while you also accelerate.

If you really want to advance in math, at some point you need to move past the "I know the algorithm / procedure to solve this problem" to the "why is this true? How do I show and know this is true from first principles?".

I'm working through the Art of Problem Solving with one of my kids and starting on the pre-algebra book and will then move into algebra. It may not be for you but something similar could be helpful to begin to increase your mathematical maturity, becoming more comfortable with abstraction, and start "proving" math. There is always more depth which could be just as valuable as moving on to the next topic in your math sequence.
 
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  • #6
you might enjoy tackling some of the class notes on my webpage, such as numbers 4,9, 10 (elementary algebra and geometry). The notes under 10 are from a summer course I gave to bright 10-12 year olds who loved math.
https://www.math.uga.edu/directory/people/roy-smith
 
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