Political scientist Andrew Hacker recently asked “Is Algebra Necessary?” and the response has, unfortunately, been predictable.
Those in society’s minority who did well in math courses are “shocked” at the suggestion that we change the typical math curriculum. The teaching may be “dismal” but algebra is a “foundation stone” in developing critical thinking skills. “It teaches one how to think.” It’s a little amusing but mostly disheartening to see folks who claim to support more challenging math standards fall back on strawman arguments, condescension, sarcasm and, my favorite, math errors in their arguments.
Those in society’s majority who did poorly in math tended to respond with relief at the suggestion of dropping algebra, although there are a few PMSD (post-mathematics stress disorder) victims whose career paths were altered by failing math and who still carry the associated baggage and resentment.
Let’s set aside the hysterics (“We are breeding a nation of morons“) and give both sides of this debate a fair shake, shall we? Continue reading ‘Is Algebra Necessary? Yes and No.’ »