Sunday, July 29, 2012

The war on Al-gebra*

What an amazing piece of horse hockey on the front page of the NY Times opinion section (and no I'm not talking about Tom Friedman's piece).

*huge hat tip to RKG for this title.


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just puked. My favorite is if you click on NYT Picks in the comments section and there is a guy who complained about taking "college math" and how he has never used it in the real world, yet he majored in History!

Dr. Tufte said...

I'd like to know whether you want more or less mandatory math Angus ... it's not clear from your "horse hockey" statement.

For my part, I was astounded that this guy thinks we need to teach more useful math, like understanding the CPI. This is something that has disappeared (or been severely cut) from most principles texts. I stopped covering it in principles years ago - there were far too many students who couldn't do weighted averages, and it was slowing down the students who could.

Jim Oliver said...

Algebra as taught in our schools is 95% intelligence and diligence test and 5% education. it could be useful but is mostly not.

Gerardo said...

It isn't clear to me why emphasis on applied quantitative methods is radically inferior to the conventional algebra-geometry-calculus sequence.

Thomas W said...

I can accept arguments against algebra (especially when I've seen proposals that Algebra II be required to graduate from high school).

A better change would be to teach things like balancing a checkbook, how interest rates work, and comparison price shopping as part of math at some point.

Angus said...

The parts that were made of horsehockey, IMO, were the claims that algebra requirements were actually causing high school dropout rates and college non-completion rates.

I have nothing against teaching more applied math or financial literacy, but algebra is not the source of the world's problems!

Eric said...

That's funny....I always thought it was "horse puckey," not horse "hockey!"

BR said...

While we're at it, can we retro-actively get rid of Biology? It's completely worthless, and it pulled my HS GPA down significantly.

Dr. Tufte said...

Thanks Angus!

People are going to think you're one of those libertarian clowns for that opinion though ;) Doesn't everyone know that teenagers never drop out or lose interest in anything except in cases where non-liberals make them do bad things because they're just mean? ;)