Algebra – it’s everywhere

Algebra – it’s everywhere.

This article argues that algebra can be fun and that algebra is used everywhere (despite what some may think). It gives some great examples at the end of the article. However, the article warns that we have to be careful about how we teach it and our policies towards it…

“Too often, algebra is taught as a set of rules and procedures – the equivalent of teaching a foreign language through vocabulary lists and repetitive conjugation of verbs, the students never understanding they could use the information to order a meal in Madrid or make a friend in China.”

“In fact, if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done. I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.”

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2 responses to “Algebra – it’s everywhere

  1. Pingback: History of Mathematics Blog » Blog Archive » Algebra - it’s everywhere

  2. Short-Time Math Teacher:
    You have the right idea in your post, although the post is not very elaborate, offering no support of the main point. (I did not yet check the link). After seeing so many blogs in which posters complain about the “uselessness” or other poor feature of Algebra, at least your post and blog points people in the right direction.

    Yes, Algebra is VERY useful. It is not just a collection of aimless rules to follow. It helps us quantitatively understand many situations; it helps us think critically about situations which have quantitative or spacial descriptions and the make decisions about those situations.

    Regarding Algebra seeming useless and boring, this may happen from students not paying attention to the Application exercises in their textbooks. I could not imagine a teacher purposely not assigning and instructing about applied problems.

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