Saturday, August 11, 2012


IS ALGEBRA A SOURCE OF FAILURE - MAYBE TIME TO RETHINK IT

While tutorings students at UTB/TSC, I eventually learned algebra.  I tought myself.  What I learned was, in my case  I could not learn math the way it was taught in the classroom.  But had I had to go through the same math regiment in the 70's as our students have to today, I never would have graduated.  I dropped math every semester but two.  I  ended up doing statistics for social science majors.

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

"This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, we’re actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.


  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all

3 comments:

Donald Clupper said...

If you went to school in the 70's I understand your frustration with math. The 70's was the era of an experiment in education called modern math. It was a total disaster and dropped from education curriculums in the 80's. Those of us who had our math in the 50's & 60's sympathize with your problem. Math is just now returning to the level it was at when we were in school.

BobbyWC said...

I actually do not believe math is the problem - I feared math- I feared anatomy and physiology - I can now teach both - I taught myself both while tutoring TSC students.

The problem is a system which says if you cannot learn the way we teach, then you are stupid.

in the core subjects in middle school and high school we must mandate a masters in the core subject. If I owned a private school I would not even consider hiring an education major. Now grades k-5 are different.

I would also change back to the days when we had junior high 7-9 and high school 10-12 - I might support the idea of a transition school for 6th and 9th grades - they could actually be on one campus.

But education majors teaching middle school or high school is a major problem.

We must also end this nonsense of everyone learns the same way.

Also in the 70's I'm not sure what you are saying

9th grade - Algebra
10th grade geometry
11th grade Trig
12th crade calculous

how is any of this new math

In NY though we could opt out to basic instruction in algebra and geometry instead of college prep math or regents as they called it.

I was suppose to do regents but they required a calculator for geometry - back then $75 was a lot and the schools did not provide them - so I did applied math -

science was 9th - geology; 10th, biology, 11th chemistry; 12th physics. We only had to take one year of science.

I am a strong advocate of math and science - but the system was geared towards failure - I loved geology - it was an easy A - but we were made to fear biology and chemistry. Today I know enough to know they are not really hard. In 8th grade we had like an intro to basics physics - it was an easy A - but you could not take 12th grade physics unless you took biology and chemestry.

I do believe in the hands of a competent teacher anyone can learn math or science - the problem is an education system without educators.

Until we fix that problem I think we need to promote an applied math with practical applications

I use basic algebra all of the time - 12=x*4 - in cooking, projects around the house - I use it all of the time.

basic algebra and basic geometry would go a long was to train our children for the future - the same for chemistry and physics

Finally we need teachers who are not oblivious to the children - It blows my mind when a teacher tells me they did not notice the kids has ADHD or some other learning disability.

When a teacher says some kid is bad and needs to go, it is the teacher who should be packed up and sent out the door.

Hey Teach!!!! - maybe you are too incompetent to teach this kid and through his learning disabilities and frustrations which come with being a kid they act out - how about actually learning how to teach every student instead of just the ones who learn how you want to teach

Anonymous said...

BWC many of the people that may have a Masters in Math or an MBA or an Engineering Degree that come into the field of education have trouble teaching, they think that everyone will just love math or science like they do and cannot relate to those that cannot comprehend either as easy as they do. I know that you are an advocate and that you do tutoring, although, you are not in the actual classroom every day, and believe me, when the door closes and the tardy bell rings the kiddo that is sitting in the back of the room could care less if you have a Masters. I know that you would like to blame anyone except the one who is doing the learning, but believe me school is hard and it requires discipline and time to be successful. Most of the MBA’s, engineers and those that may have a Masters in Math or Science are retirees or those that may have lost their job in industry, and they are not always a good fit for teaching, believe me if you were in the classroom everyday you may agree with me.
BWC you are a smart man, and have many good ideas that are “out of the Box” so to say, with that said, hiring non-educators that have lost their jobs industry is not the game changer that you may think it is.