Do you have adblock enabled?
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(The New York Times)   The problem with American schools is that they teach too much math   (nytimes.com) divider line 573
    More: Stupid, Americans, Appalachian State University, Advanced Placement, university system, City University London, trigonometry, School of Medicine, high schools  
•       •       •

18752 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:44 PM (3 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



573 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

Archived thread
 
2012-07-30 03:03:06 PM  
I told that teacher lady the only numbers I need to know are U, S and A.
 
2012-07-30 03:04:26 PM  
You misspelled meth
 
2012-07-30 03:06:17 PM  
I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.
 
2012-07-30 03:06:53 PM  
They're, not their. Damn.
 
2012-07-30 03:12:03 PM  
 
2012-07-30 03:15:49 PM  
I was told there would be no approved links about this subject
 
2012-07-30 03:17:59 PM  
As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.
 
2012-07-30 03:20:12 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?
 
2012-07-30 03:21:21 PM  
LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.
 
2012-07-30 03:23:30 PM  

meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.


Why would algae wear a bra? They have no boobies.
 
2012-07-30 03:26:13 PM  
I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.
 
2012-07-30 03:35:53 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.
 
2012-07-30 03:45:57 PM  
It's not that we teach too much math, it just seems like a third of every year of math is spent reviewing the previous year. If we'd just go with a "get it or don't" mentality, we might be able to teach something useful someday.
 
2012-07-30 03:54:42 PM  
John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.
 
2012-07-30 03:54:47 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?
 
2012-07-30 03:56:04 PM  

EvilEgg: Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?


Nope. But reading/writing skills > math in the real world (unless you actually have a job that requires and uses arithmetic).

I never said there shouldn't be a math class requirement in college. I said pre-calc and college alegbra were a waste of time for most people (especially pre-calc). There are plenty of math classes that would be more useful (statistics, financial economics) and would still allow for students to receive a well-rounded education.
 
2012-07-30 03:58:40 PM  
The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.
 
2012-07-30 04:07:53 PM  

wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


I get your point, but my point would be (from my experience in high school in the 1990s) is that most everything is taught much more rote than practical real-world situations. Yeah, you need some rote learning (2x - 4 = -3... solve for x)... but it would be better to move on to some sample real world situations.

As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

All in all I just remember never having real-world situations taught to me in high school.
 
2012-07-30 04:10:53 PM  

Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.


Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!
 
2012-07-30 04:14:53 PM  

wingedkat: Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


downstairs pretty much captured it. Yes, college-level stats course would and should need at least some foundation in algebra. But not all stats, and certainly not all interpretation of statistics needs an algebraic foundation. And interpretation of stats is something that everyone in every walk of life can benefit from.

I suppose my suggestion would be having statistics drive the education around algebra.
 
2012-07-30 04:18:41 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


That's applied arithmetic (multiplication).
 
2012-07-30 04:25:49 PM  
The guy who wrote that is a Political Science professor.

Who's subject matter is useless?

And there is no "Science" in political science, the only reason it gets the word "science" in the subject is because of politics.
 
2012-07-30 04:29:01 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?


$4.71
 
2012-07-30 04:29:51 PM  

Babwa Wawa: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

That's applied arithmetic (multiplication).


Total cost is 3X, where X is the price per pound. You have to use algebra to know where to plug in the variables.
 
2012-07-30 04:29:52 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


This is an algebraic word problem:

Meat is $2.99/lb. Last week it was 15% less, and you could afford 3 pounds. How much money did you have last week.

And that's elementary algebra - I don't think anyone here is arguing that you don't need that level of education. Certainly the author didn't argue that. The question is whether people need to actually master abstract algebra in order to graduate HS.

I personally think the requirement is a bit weird - sure you want people heading off to university to have no less than trig, and you'll probably want calc once you get there.

But if someone just wants to go to nursing school or whatever, a mastery of basic stats is far more useful than a mastery of abstract algebra
 
2012-07-30 04:41:01 PM  

downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.


Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.
2. Algebra, geometry, etc needs to be taught along with all the basics way back in grade school. Algebra especially is basically just math grammar, nothing that should be pulled out and made a big deal of.
 
2012-07-30 04:42:45 PM  
I hope that mathematics departments can also create courses in the history and philosophy of their discipline, as well as its applications in early cultures. Why not mathematics in art and music - even poetry

no
there is no need to teach ANY of these useless topics. history? worthless. science? useless. philosophy is for morons. literature, writing, reading? only librarians would need these useless skillz.

school should require only recess, lunch, sex, internet stuff and how to get cheat codes for video games.

/LOLOLOLOL I love when morons think that the topics that they hate are worthless
 
2012-07-30 04:44:45 PM  

Thoguh: Babwa Wawa: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

That's applied arithmetic (multiplication).

Total cost is 3X, where X is the price per pound. You have to use algebra to know where to plug in the variables.


Technically correct but it's no more difficult than those presented to my kids last year (elementary school). The article is about whether you should need to master algebra in order to get a HS diploma.

When people talk about algebra, they usually mean polynomials or something like "find the dimension of a rectangle whose length is 9 less than twice its width if the perimeter is 120 cm."

I don't normally nitpick on terminology, but in this case it's important. Of course the author was not saying that HS grads shouldn't need to be able to solve for x in 2.99 * 3 = x.
 
2012-07-30 04:48:36 PM  

EvilEgg: Relevant TED talk


You got there before me.
 
2012-07-30 04:50:18 PM  
Better headline: "Yes."
 
2012-07-30 04:50:47 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?
 
2012-07-30 04:50:56 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I suppose my suggestion would be having statistics drive the education around algebra.


That could work. Maybe something more interesting. I'd advocate for a variety of applied math classes, like "interior design" "carpentry" "sports statistics" etc, followed by a mandatory "life statistics and applied probabilities" class of some sort, which would cover population, media, and political statistics. Let people do and learn things that are interesting to them while also learning algebra.

/plan fails when passing standardized tests is the #1 goal
 
2012-07-30 04:51:11 PM  
The NYT being dumb? Stop the presses!(literally)
 
2012-07-30 04:52:14 PM  
Liberal Arts major typing detected in article.

FTFA: "Andrew Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York"

CONFIRMED
 
2012-07-30 04:52:28 PM  

EngineerBoy: The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.


IMHO, algebra is too often incorrectly taught as a series of steps rather than a concept.
 
2012-07-30 04:52:49 PM  

pciszek: Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?


You can't teach stats without a basic understanding of algebra. But you can teach basic stats to someone without a complete mastery of algebra. You can also use statistics to drive understanding of algebra.
 
2012-07-30 04:52:49 PM  
I am terrible at math. I tried and tried in school, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. My brain just isn't wired that way. However, I excel when it comes to language and interpretive arts, and I did very well in visual arts. Aside from the occasional grammar-Nazi snark here, I don't put down those who don't do well in English or related fields, because I know my own limits when it comes to math. I had a roommate who admitted he never learned to read, and I helped tutor him until he had at least the basic skills.

The important thing for me is that I was necessarily exposed to both fields. I found I did well in one, and not so much the other; I would expect to find that there are those who excel in math, but maybe not so much in language skills. I don't value them less that anyone else. Indeed, these people are vital in the STEM fields, which our country needs people in now more than ever. This guy's thesis is bunkum.
 
2012-07-30 04:53:46 PM  
You can't get rid of algebra. You need it to count to potato.
 
2012-07-30 04:54:31 PM  

wingedkat:
1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.



I found some of your homework.

filehurricane.com
 
2012-07-30 04:54:50 PM  
If I didn't know algebra, I wouldn't know how to buy enough hot dogs and buns so they would equal up.
 
2012-07-30 04:54:55 PM  
I hated math in school and now looking back on it the reason I hated it so much was the way it was taught to me. Funny thing is I did great in science and the math that was taught to me in there. I think it was because I was shown in physical terms how the math worked and could use it. I dunno maybe I just sucked at math I know I was really bad at fractions. Dividing and multiplying them was a nightmare.
 
2012-07-30 04:56:52 PM  
cdn.buzznet.com
 
2012-07-30 04:57:03 PM  
Problem with american schools? Lack of 2 parents and or lack of involvement.
 
2012-07-30 04:58:00 PM  
If critical thinking is a goal of algebra education then we'd probably do better by replacing it with formal and informal logic. It might cut down on the series of fallacies I read on Fark, or what are commonly called arguments by morans.
 
2012-07-30 04:58:09 PM  
I would say they do teach too much math and they teach it wrong.

My issue with math was first going from ordinary addition subtraction type stuff to Algebra. It simply throw me off. We should be introducing Algebra at an earlier age.
 
2012-07-30 04:58:16 PM  

pciszek: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?


Probably, yes. I'd argue that that's more of a sociology or political science class than a math class, if you're focusing on interpreting numbers or defining terms.
 
2012-07-30 04:58:52 PM  
The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.
 
2012-07-30 04:59:07 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


+1
The important skills to learn in algebra are how to manipulate numbers, not just how to solve for x. I work in accounting and finance, and while I seldom use actual algebra, I constantly manipulate numbers in ways that I learned while being taught algebra. While algebra itself might be replaceable in schools, some form of intermediate mathematics needs to take its place. I got through Calc2 in college and I have only once used that knowledge for any practical purpose. I would note that I described that application during the interview for the great job/career I have now - so perhaps I should give higher math a bit more credit. Having mathematical skills does make an employee more valuable.
 
2012-07-30 04:59:11 PM  

Babwa Wawa: Thoguh: Babwa Wawa: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

That's applied arithmetic (multiplication).

Total cost is 3X, where X is the price per pound. You have to use algebra to know where to plug in the variables.

Technically correct but it's no more difficult than those presented to my kids last year (elementary school). The article is about whether you should need to master algebra in order to get a HS diploma.

When people talk about algebra, they usually mean polynomials or something like "find the dimension of a rectangle whose length is 9 less than twice its width if the perimeter is 120 cm."

I don't normally nitpick on terminology, but in this case it's important. Of course the author was not saying that HS grads shouldn't need to be able to solve for x in 2.99 * 3 = x.


I would defend my statement, but Baba Waba did a pretty good job of that. I could have used different terminology, but I still stand by my statement, most people do not use algebra in everyday lives. Answering for x in the above example is basic elementary word problems. Most people can figure that out, it's applied mathematics. But algebraic concepts like quadratic equations? Not used.

I'm not arguing that algebra shouldn't be taught - I said the problem was with the way it's currently taught, with an emphasis on testing, not application.
 
2012-07-30 04:59:51 PM  
A huge part of the problem is that math isn't being taught correctly, even by the (many) good teachers out there. I spent far too much time in math classes working on the "theory", the "whys" of math, and little time on the practical application thereof.

For example: No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares "why" 2+2=4, or "why" limits and log functions work the way that they do. Why are spending half of a test writing proofs for these concepts? We should be using those tests to apply the ideas to problems, and find reality-based ways to solve them.

Also, while I understand the pervasiveness of calculators and computers today (my TI83 got me through Trig and Calc), calculators need to stay out of the classroom until at least high school. I'm not a math whiz, but I can make change in my head. When the power went out in the WalMart I worked at in College, half of the cashiers had to use their phones to calculate change amounts because they couldn't do it manually.
 
2012-07-30 04:59:58 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


the real answer is, shop somewhere else, where you get a discount the more you buy
 
2012-07-30 05:00:02 PM  
Problem solving skills are really over rated. I can almost hear the author as a child throwing a melt-down tantrum and crying profusely because they couldn't figure it out.
 
2012-07-30 05:00:59 PM  

namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.


Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.
 
2012-07-30 05:01:39 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


Maybe, but everyone should be forced to take Probability and Stats in college.

/hell, in HS
 
2012-07-30 05:02:16 PM  

Mega Steve: If I didn't know algebra, I wouldn't know how to buy enough hot dogs and buns so they would equal up.


I hate to sound like a knucklehead, but... wow. That is a perfect example to use. The next time my son complains about how he doesn't need to know math when he grows up, I'll have to use that one.

/(x*8)+(y*10)=z
 
2012-07-30 05:02:35 PM  
Bring back shop
 
2012-07-30 05:02:57 PM  
pbpl.physics.ucla.edu
 
2012-07-30 05:03:23 PM  

Grand_Moff_Joseph: A huge part of the problem is that math isn't being taught correctly, even by the (many) good teachers out there. I spent far too much time in math classes working on the "theory", the "whys" of math, and little time on the practical application thereof.

For example: No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares "why" 2+2=4, or "why" limits and log functions work the way that they do. Why are spending half of a test writing proofs for these concepts? We should be using those tests to apply the ideas to problems, and find reality-based ways to solve them.

Also, while I understand the pervasiveness of calculators and computers today (my TI83 got me through Trig and Calc), calculators need to stay out of the classroom until at least high school. I'm not a math whiz, but I can make change in my head. When the power went out in the WalMart I worked at in College, half of the cashiers had to use their phones to calculate change amounts because they couldn't do it manually.


I think there might be some value to introducing them earlier, mostly because the students will be introduced to calculators and computers at an early age regardless of how the school approaches it. There's no harm in showing students how use tools properly.
 
2012-07-30 05:03:45 PM  
The fact that this is even a debate is proof that we're completely farked as a country. How the hell can the US compete with non-derpy countries if we can't understand the most basic of abstract mathematics?

Seriously, people. We must teach it because it's hard....even though it really isn't.
 
2012-07-30 05:03:50 PM  
EngineerBoy
These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
If you can't explain it at all, you probably teach high school.
 
2012-07-30 05:04:31 PM  
I think that we have been trying to find "easier" ways to teach math for over 40 years

Evidence is that for the most part, the easier ways are failures.

The key to being good at math is the same as being good at reading. You have to do it and do it and do it and do it. In other words, those old fashioned work books that were full of excercise problems are the way to go. Teach the concept, show some sample problems, have the students do 20 problems over night. Check their work, if they don't have the idea, find common threads in the lack of understanding, assign 50 more problems designed to address the problems. Check them the next day, if they have it, go to the next concept.

The other problem is that many teachers, especially at the elementary level, don't really understand math well enough to understand whether their students get it or not, much less why they don't get it.
 
2012-07-30 05:04:36 PM  

rockforever: Bring back shop


That. The combination of mechanics + craftsmanship + applied math + problem solving = good.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:09 PM  
img189.imageshack.us
 
2012-07-30 05:05:13 PM  
fark it.
the Chinese have won.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:51 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


ALL classes which will never be needed are a waste. DUH
composition? complete waste.
philosophy? complete waste.
bioethics? complete waste.

computer science? totally worth it!
physics, chemistry? extra worth it.
german? worthless.

bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhahahahaha
why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:52 PM  
Math is intensely important to computer programming. You're all so completely dependent on it, and you barely seem to realize it.
 
2012-07-30 05:06:00 PM  
II'd have to say:
Dear author of "article," yes it is you stupid son of a biatch. Maybe if you worked one day in your life in a real job you'd know this.
 
2012-07-30 05:06:38 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


That's funny... I was just having a discussion maybe 2 days ago about the reasoning behind why stats isn't a required part of a high school education. Not necessarily a whole semester of stats, but all the basics. I even discussed a single semester of algebra and stats combined. Advanced material from either one of them is all but useless to most students, but the basics learned from both carry on to a number of things in the job market that are not science related.
 
2012-07-30 05:07:08 PM  

namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.


Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.
 
2012-07-30 05:07:45 PM  

buckler: namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.

Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.


...or do I have a hook in my mouth at this point?
 
2012-07-30 05:08:16 PM  
The problem is with convincing kids that mad mathz skillz are important- you've got to remember, these are little idiots with - as a matter of course - no properly developed concept of what the future holds for them. In more traditional societies and in the developing world, it's easy: The motivation is "because your parents want you to" or "because learning as much as you can will get you out of this place". In the US and elsewhere in the West, it's harder: You have to convince them that they will need these skills in the future.
 
2012-07-30 05:08:25 PM  

buckler: namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.

Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.


yup, and I went to school with the Wachowskis and michelle robinson. YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
school had nothing to do with anything.
they would have been much better off if they could have skipped everything!!!

/I was being sarcastic. either all classes should be required or no classes should be required.
 
2012-07-30 05:08:58 PM  

Babwa Wawa: Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

This is an algebraic word problem:

Meat is $2.99/lb. Last week it was 15% less, and you could afford 3 pounds. How much money did you have last week.

And that's elementary algebra - I don't think anyone here is arguing that you don't need that level of education. Certainly the author didn't argue that. The question is whether people need to actually master abstract algebra in order to graduate HS.


Ah, so this is an argument about degrees of algebra.

man, I hate useless word problems like this one. There has *got* to be a better way to get this same point across in a useful manner. I mean, are there any situations when I wouldn't know I had $7.62 last week, but I would know the relative difference in price and the amount I bought? That is sooo... backwards.

I guess, you could make it like a detective story:
"A detective is investigating a robbery and the suspect was seen leaving the supermarket and throwing away the receipt, which would have his finger prints. There are 4 receipts, but they only indicate the price spent/item. The clerk doesn't remember the price of the meat, but does remember that the suspect bought 3 pounds of beef, currently $3.99, which cost 15% less the day on the crime. Which receipt has the suspect's fingerprints?"

That's probably too long and complicated, but at least more interesting.
 
2012-07-30 05:10:17 PM  

Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.


Not as long as Raptor Regan has a say in matters

i.imgur.com

The communists will never succeed!
 
2012-07-30 05:10:24 PM  

buckler: buckler: namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.

Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.

...or do I have a hook in my mouth at this point?


LOL
no .... my complaint is that these people want to change the things that they hate, but think their stuff is perfect.
Literature classes exist to employ literature students. why are the rest of us punished to employ them??
 
2012-07-30 05:10:31 PM  

EngineerBoy: The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.


My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.
 
2012-07-30 05:11:21 PM  

Babwa Wawa: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.


no you dont. there are no scientists that cant write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me" it is their job to provide specialized high tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own thanks.
 
2012-07-30 05:11:24 PM  
Don't worry scrote. Lots of retards are livin' really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.

buttonpushingmonkey.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-07-30 05:11:30 PM  

namatad: buckler: namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.

Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.

yup, and I went to school with the Wachowskis and michelle robinson. YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
school had nothing to do with anything.
they would have been much better off if they could have skipped everything!!!

/I was being sarcastic. either all classes should be required or no classes should be required.


Thanks. I'm working on about three things plus Farking at the moment. My sarcasm meter alarm didn't go off to alert me. Back to the shop for it, I guess.
 
2012-07-30 05:13:06 PM  

Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.


Duuuuude! Your teacher ever share the bong?
 
2012-07-30 05:14:05 PM  
I hated math, became an English major, got out into the real world, and landed my first job in banking. That evolved into analytics, performance tracking, and statistical analysis & modeling. I use algebra every day.
I'm damn glad I received the broad, liberal education that included algebra, stats, logic and computer science.

I'm one of the few in my part of the corporation who is a solid writer. Probably the only one who both understands the complex issues discussed and is capable of communicating effectively. Job security rocks...

/the math is there to teach you how to effectively approach abstract and uncomfortable challenges...pretty useful, in general...
 
2012-07-30 05:14:39 PM  

wingedkat: downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.
2. Algebra, geometry, etc needs to be taught along with all the basics way back in grade school. Algebra especially is basically just math grammar, nothing that should be pulled out and made a big deal of.


To be in compliance with NCLB and the CRCT, it already is being taught in the lower grades. It's being taught like crap, but it's being taught. Most kids memorize stuff just long enough to pass and then have to re-learn it the next time around, while the kids that get it are bored beyond belief. My fifth grader and second grader were actually working the same friggin problems at one point, because the fifth grade teacher really liked the worksheet the second grade teacher created.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:04 PM  

Kimothy: They're, not their. Damn.


Too late. Your entire argument, no matter how valid, has been rendered useless.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:28 PM  
School is obviously holding kids back. We should skip the whole thing.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:38 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Indeed:

"Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

--George Carlin
 
2012-07-30 05:16:07 PM  

pciszek: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?


Maybe per capita type stuff, but confidence intervals and margin of error would be difficult without algebra.
 
2012-07-30 05:16:19 PM  
Brian Erst writes: "Just make the coming generation of fembots user-programmable in a way that requires good math and logic skills. You will very quickly have a generation of mathematical and programming geniuses."

via-Instapundit
 
2012-07-30 05:16:31 PM  
Surely you can't be serious, math is the area we are suck the most at.
 
2012-07-30 05:17:36 PM  
i950.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 05:17:55 PM  

LordOfThePings: Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.

Duuuuude! Your teacher ever share the bong?


And just to be clear, I mean that she thought that pi was irrational because every time we measure a circle, our measurements are slightly off. She thought there was a finite decimal expansion of pi, we just hadn't discovered it yet.

I stopped paying attention in class after that.
 
2012-07-30 05:18:34 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Especially certain people in certain global temp trend threads.

/15 years!
 
2012-07-30 05:18:35 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


Well said. And the author is an idiot for thinking you can teach stats without any math background... unless one is a social scientist who likes playing with numbers without understanding how methodologies work. I know plenty of social scientists who love playing with quantitative models, but when you ask basic questions about their logic and causality, everything falls apart.
 
2012-07-30 05:18:36 PM  

wingedkat: 1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.


Mmm, no. Here's the thing: an alarmingly large proportion of the middle school kids I've encountered in the past while have often come in with huge gaps in their math abilities, often operating several years behind where they should be.

It should be noted that a BSc-Math degree doesn't qualify one to start an elementary certification program under typical state NCLB standards. You would need an extra year or so of general arts credits beyond your degree to qualify. Basically, you'd have to hybrid into the equivalent of a BA (Math). Math majors generally certify at middle or high school.

The converse is not true. One or two math credits are sufficient for an Arts or History major.

Worse, most teacher college professors appear to have been drawn from the huge pool of English/History majors. You're very lucky if you have a math or science background professor who can teach that aspect of education to the elementary school teacher candidates.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:04 PM  

Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.


That sounds a lot like the last time I tried to calculate the precise value of infinity using a scratch pad, a tape measure and the end off of a serial cable.. and three days later discovered that there were two tabs stuck together, apparently.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:23 PM  
I don't think we are hard enough on kids.

if you don't want to take the basics of math in HS, then please by all means ask me if I want fries with that after you get out.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:24 PM  

buckler: I am terrible at math. I tried and tried in school, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. My brain just isn't wired that way. However, I excel when it comes to language and interpretive arts, and I did very well in visual arts. Aside from the occasional grammar-Nazi snark here, I don't put down those who don't do well in English or related fields, because I know my own limits when it comes to math. I had a roommate who admitted he never learned to read, and I helped tutor him until he had at least the basic skills.

The important thing for me is that I was necessarily exposed to both fields. I found I did well in one, and not so much the other; I would expect to find that there are those who excel in math, but maybe not so much in language skills. I don't value them less that anyone else. Indeed, these people are vital in the STEM fields, which our country needs people in now more than ever. This guy's thesis is bunkum.


PERFECT!!
And this is what school should be all about. Finding the things which one is good at and then being educated in those things.
People with no interest in ... botany, wouldnt disrupt the class. those interested in band, would do band.

the only reason that you would need to take other classes is to get enough exposure to determine interest in the first place.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:35 PM  
Learning math is really learning problem solving, the numbers are almost irrelevant. When I taught prep for the GMATand GRE I found the students who couldn't do math were the students who could never solve any of the verbal problems they didn't immediately know. They seemed to lack the ability to break down a question and figure out how to solve it.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:38 PM  
If the price of sending someone to prison > price of sending someone to Princeton

Then YES we need more math to keep people out of prison.

http://www.business2community.com/government-politics/prison-vs-princ e ton-university-infographic-073142
 
2012-07-30 05:20:04 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:
1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.



I found some of your homework.

[filehurricane.com image 494x371]


hmm.... uh huh... yeah, turns out I don't see what you did there.

It would make more sense if you had not made it *my* homework.
 
2012-07-30 05:20:14 PM  

Kimothy: Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things.


My brother cannot understand the different between growth at a slower rate and shrinking. This impacts his ability to understand all manner of social and economic issues. Even if you don't solve trig and calculus problems everyday, mastering those concepts allows you to better understand the world around you.
 
2012-07-30 05:20:17 PM  

Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus.....


most people don't use arithmatic more complicated than counting to 3 on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be.

/it usually isn't that important to know when train A going x mph and train B going y mph are going to meet, but it is important to understand on a conceptual level how to solve that problem
 
2012-07-30 05:21:20 PM  
He is farking joking. Right?
 
2012-07-30 05:22:39 PM  

Voiceofreason01: conceptual level how to solve that problem


a: apply brakes

or

b: JUMP!
 
2012-07-30 05:23:53 PM  

Graffito: Kimothy: Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things.

My brother cannot understand the different between growth at a slower rate and shrinking. This impacts his ability to understand all manner of social and economic issues. Even if you don't solve trig and calculus problems everyday, mastering those concepts allows you to better understand the world around you.


Most farkers don't understand the difference either. Thus the Politics tab.
 
2012-07-30 05:24:10 PM  

TheBeastOfYuccaFlats: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

Maybe, but everyone should be forced to take Probability and Stats in college.

/hell, in HS


Poker teaches those and additional useful life skills.
 
2012-07-30 05:24:42 PM  

Kimothy: I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.


I'll bet you use algebra more than you think. Any time you see a package of 10 somethings for y dollars you might think about how each one of those things costs y/10. That's algebra, Bud.
 
2012-07-30 05:25:29 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Totally agree about stats! Especially considering the fact that 95% of the statistics publicly presented are completely made up.
 
2012-07-30 05:25:45 PM  
I got to the line in the article with the nerd snipe, and I stopped reading. It was very difficult, but I also refrained from doing the math.

/WTF is wrong with these morons that can't understand basic algebra?
 
2012-07-30 05:25:55 PM  
I would say that we teach advanced mathematics (beyond "counting out change") because by the time one student out of fifty decides he wants to study something actually challenging, it's too late to start teaching him real math. If everyone gets algebra crammed into their skulls in middle school, the ones who discover they need calculus and statistics in high school will be ready to take them.
 
2012-07-30 05:26:28 PM  

wingedkat:
I guess, you could make it like a detective story:
"A detective is investigating a robbery and the suspect was seen leaving the supermarket and throwing away the receipt, which would have his finger prints. There are 4 receipts, but they only indicate the price spent/item. The clerk doesn't remember the price of the meat, but does remember that the suspect bought 3 pounds of beef, currently $3.99. There was a 15% sale on all items in the store which ended recently. Which receipt has the suspect's fingerprints?"

That's probably too long and complicated, but at least more interesting.


This fits in the narrative better, and also makes detail important to the story/problem.

/No more word problems with Ida and Susan building quadrilateral walls around their garden.
 
2012-07-30 05:26:33 PM  

downstairs: wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: Yeah, you need some rote learning (2x - 4 = -3... solve for x)...


X = 1/2
 
2012-07-30 05:26:47 PM  
University education, especially liberal arts education, is more important than you might think. Requiring engineering students to learn a foreign language and understand philosophy makes them better engineers because it allows them to think about things in different ways (at a potentially fundamental level), as well as just making them better people in general. Besides, engineers need to be able to write well and read well to perform research.

Also, many 18 year olds don't even know what they want to do yet. Some aren't even aware that there are options out there. I know plenty of people who started out as CS majors and turned into pure math majors, or EEs or philosphy majors (and not just to get an "easy degree"). I'm lucky in that I've known what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember, but that's not true for everyone.

If you only want to take classes that are relevant to your career, fine, go to ITT Tech. The problem is that you'll miss out on the whole universe of knowledge and information that would have (a) made your life richer and (b) made you a better network engineer in incalcuable (but real) ways.
 
2012-07-30 05:27:13 PM  

Kimothy: Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.


I absolutely agree. This is where Montessori school excels -- the kids not only understand the concepts behind math in an intuitive way, they tend to like the subject.
 
2012-07-30 05:28:00 PM  

Lord Dimwit: In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.


I had a music teacher in seventh grade who decided to lecture the class on the need for attaining a well-rounded education (just to be clear, I actually agree with the sentiment). His example was that we could compute the odds of winning the pick-4 lottery by multiplying 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24, so its 1 in 24. In summary:

1) He completely botched the math (the real odds are 1 in 10,000)
2) Based on this math, he came to the wrong conclusion (If the jackpot were anything over $24, and we used his math, we'd be buying as many lottery tickets as we could)

Even at age 12, the stupid hurt.
 
2012-07-30 05:28:26 PM  

mr lawson: Voiceofreason01: conceptual level how to solve that problem

a: apply brakes

or

b: JUMP!


At what point will brake application result in insufficient reduction of momentum to avoid collision requiring you to calculate the proper trajectory and starting velocity in which to disembark the train with statistically the least likely result being farked up beyond all recognition?
 
2012-07-30 05:28:48 PM  

slayer199: EvilEgg: Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?

Nope. But reading/writing skills > math in the real world (unless you actually have a job that requires and uses arithmetic).

I never said there shouldn't be a math class requirement in college. I said pre-calc and college alegbra were a waste of time for most people (especially pre-calc). There are plenty of math classes that would be more useful (statistics, financial economics) and would still allow for students to receive a well-rounded education.


I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.
 
2012-07-30 05:29:22 PM  
Interesting problem I saw on Youtube the other day.

If you are traveling at 80mph, how long would it take to travel 80 miles? Take into consideration all factors such as rotation speed of the tires and the average running velocity of a human being.
 
2012-07-30 05:29:46 PM  

umad: slayer199: EvilEgg: Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?

Nope. But reading/writing skills > math in the real world (unless you actually have a job that requires and uses arithmetic).

I never said there shouldn't be a math class requirement in college. I said pre-calc and college alegbra were a waste of time for most people (especially pre-calc). There are plenty of math classes that would be more useful (statistics, financial economics) and would still allow for students to receive a well-rounded education.

I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.


Tell that to number nine. There's a reason seven is scared of him.
 
2012-07-30 05:30:22 PM  

Lord Dimwit: umad: slayer199: EvilEgg: Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?

Nope. But reading/writing skills > math in the real world (unless you actually have a job that requires and uses arithmetic).

I never said there shouldn't be a math class requirement in college. I said pre-calc and college alegbra were a waste of time for most people (especially pre-calc). There are plenty of math classes that would be more useful (statistics, financial economics) and would still allow for students to receive a well-rounded education.

I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Tell that to number nine. There's a reason seven is scared of him.


Dammit. You know what I meant.
 
2012-07-30 05:30:23 PM  

FloydA: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

$4.71


BZZZZT! Incorrect! The correct answer in the liberal agenda education system is: MEAT IS MURDER!!!
 
2012-07-30 05:30:26 PM  

Lord Dimwit: LordOfThePings: Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.

Duuuuude! Your teacher ever share the bong?

And just to be clear, I mean that she thought that pi was irrational because every time we measure a circle, our measurements are slightly off. She thought there was a finite decimal expansion of pi, we just hadn't discovered it yet.

I stopped paying attention in class after that.


It's really just a matter of notation. Pi = 10 (base pi)
 
2012-07-30 05:30:37 PM  
up-ship.com

Gotta give it to the NYT, they know how to troll the interpopulace. First the "Should we do journalism?" article. Then the "Journalism is hard" article. Now this.
 
2012-07-30 05:30:52 PM  

AverageAmericanGuy: Interesting problem I saw on Youtube the other day.

If you are traveling at 80mph, how long would it take to travel 80 miles? Take into consideration all factors such as rotation speed of the tires and the average running velocity of a human being.


That's exactly the sort of question you see on those late night talk show "humiliate the man on the street" segments, and I'm amazed people get that kind of stuff wrong.
 
2012-07-30 05:31:20 PM  
"The problem with American schools is that they don't teach too much math anything to anyone"

FIFY

I went overseas to an international school for my sophomore year in high school. It was waaaaay harder than my HS here in the states (I guess those damn Europeans wanted their kids to be educated or something). When I returned for my junior year, I discovered that my Sophomore English text book over there was the Senior AP English text here.

That was 30 years ago, and it's only gotten worse.
 
2012-07-30 05:31:42 PM  
 
2012-07-30 05:33:39 PM  
FTFA: "But it's not easy to see why potential poets and philosophers face a lofty mathematics bar."

disagree completely. math is prerequisite to coherent philosophical reasoning.
 
2012-07-30 05:34:03 PM  

Surool: "The problem with American schools is that they don't teach too much math anything to anyone"

FIFY

I went overseas to an international school for my sophomore year in high school. It was waaaaay harder than my HS here in the states (I guess those damn Europeans wanted their kids to be educated or something). When I returned for my junior year, I discovered that my Sophomore English text book over there was the Senior AP English text here.

That was 30 years ago, and it's only gotten worse.


And I bet kids were held back if they couldn't pass too.
 
2012-07-30 05:34:12 PM  
Yes, by all means let's volunteer to become more ignorant.
 
2012-07-30 05:34:16 PM  

MooseUpNorth: It should be noted that a BSc-Math degree doesn't qualify one to start an elementary certification program under typical state NCLB standards. You would need an extra year or so of general arts credits beyond your degree to qualify. Basically, you'd have to hybrid into the equivalent of a BA (Math). Math majors generally certify at middle or high school.

The converse is not true. One or two math credits are sufficient for an Arts or History major.

Worse, most teacher college professors appear to have been drawn from the huge pool of English/History majors. You're very lucky if you have a math or science background professor who can teach that aspect of education to the elementary school teacher candidates.


No no, I don't want liberal arts majors teaching math. I want science, engineering, and accounting majors to teach math.

The problem with the way we teach math is that it propagates itself... people who are capable of understanding it the way it is currently taught do well, learn to love it, study it in college, then go on to teach it the same way they learned it, leaving far too many of the students confused as to how it could ever be useful in their lives. I want to break the cycle, let people learned math to use it because it works teach it.

I don't advocate those programs that grab random engineers, give them a month's course in "how to teach", and throw them into problem schools. Teaching is a hard skill, and requires a lot more than just knowledge of the subject matter.

I just think "I Love Math" > "Math Major" > "Mathematics Education" is more often a bad idea than a good one.
 
2012-07-30 05:34:36 PM  

All_Farked_Up: Surool: "The problem with American schools is that they don't teach too much math anything to anyone"

FIFY

I went overseas to an international school for my sophomore year in high school. It was waaaaay harder than my HS here in the states (I guess those damn Europeans wanted their kids to be educated or something). When I returned for my junior year, I discovered that my Sophomore English text book over there was the Senior AP English text here.

That was 30 years ago, and it's only gotten worse.

And I bet kids were held back if they couldn't pass too.


Yup. Those were the days...
 
2012-07-30 05:35:09 PM  

Surool: "The problem with American schools is that they don't teach too much math anything to anyone"

FIFY

I went overseas to an international school for my sophomore year in high school. It was waaaaay harder than my HS here in the states (I guess those damn Europeans wanted their kids to be educated or something). When I returned for my junior year, I discovered that my Sophomore English text book over there was the Senior AP English text here.

That was 30 years ago, and it's only gotten worse.


What the deuce are they teaching in math that's so hard? HS level math is fairly trivial. Fark man, my second year integrals course in University - there's nooo way you could teach that in HS.

I suppose they could teach matrices. OTOH they're pretty easy but very useful.
 
2012-07-30 05:35:16 PM  
I'm taking college algebra (and have a solid A going 2 days from the final) so I'm getting a kick out of these replies. Wish I'd have done it earlier in life, but I -really- hated being shown something, understanding it, and being told I needed to do it 50 more times every night. Fark that method, I like this one better...here's some problems to try, solutions are in the back so if you get stuck, you can figure out why that answer is the right one.

There is a quiz at the beginning of class covering the previous day's stuff. If you didn't quite have it when you left and didn't work some problems that night, you're going to be screwed. If you did understand, and didn't have to work the problems, you'll be golden. I think that's a better model, at least for me it is.

/There is, no shiat, a middle schooler in my class-had to get instructor permission because they're too young to enroll at the university for HS credit.
//Yes, it's an Asian kid.
 
2012-07-30 05:35:31 PM  

LordOfThePings: [img189.imageshack.us image 400x433]


2/(x+1)
 
2012-07-30 05:35:39 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I use the computer for all my math and language translation needs.



"As far as what he hates algebra (and still do), I would not give up teaching. Engineering is a useful statistics can be useful. However, before forcing Calculate College Faculty and students of algebra than ever in need of either a waste."

Run it thru a few languages and it comes out just perfect. Sea ?
 
2012-07-30 05:36:42 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


I agree that it isn't about solving specific complex problems. There are people with a home project, like remodelling a bathroom, that can't do the simplest of mathematical reasoning. How much tile is needed? How about paint? What angle should I cut this board? I can't imagine going through life without the math skills I have. It'd be like not being able to read.
 
2012-07-30 05:37:18 PM  

ElLoco: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

That's funny... I was just having a discussion maybe 2 days ago about the reasoning behind why stats isn't a required part of a high school education. Not necessarily a whole semester of stats, but all the basics. I even discussed a single semester of algebra and stats combined. Advanced material from either one of them is all but useless to most students, but the basics learned from both carry on to a number of things in the job market that are not science related.


The difficulty is that survey-level stats is about as useful as pre-calculus physics -- can may be able to memorize the formulae, but you don't have the first clue where they come from, why, or what they mean. Stats really requires and understanding of calculus, and is often even opaque with that.
 
2012-07-30 05:38:01 PM  

wingedkat: Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:
1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.



I found some of your homework.

[filehurricane.com image 494x371]

hmm.... uh huh... yeah, turns out I don't see what you did there.

It would make more sense if you had not made it *my* homework.


hmm... uh huh... yeah, turns out that I don't care about who you are.

You said something fundamentally stupid, so I objectified you as someone who would put a fundamentally stupid answer on a math test... possibly because you are 'living the dream' of having people who don't understand math teach it to you.

But this objection that it doesn't really apply to you is moot because (as earlier stated) I don't really care about you or want to know that you are an AP Political Science major *.

* Or something

Here's some more

edge.ebaumsworld.com
 
2012-07-30 05:39:28 PM  
Christ, did a cow crap in here? Figures the article would come from a liberal arts major. Know what, take David Copperfield and shove it up your bung hole! If you can't learn a concept that is a few hundred years old, you're an idiot. Math, at its core, is about problem solving whether it is useful for you in life or not, it builds cognitive skills in looking at a problem, breaking it down and finding a solution. It trains the brain to solve problems. Painting happy trees every day will not help you tackle problems you might encounter in the workplace (though they will make your cubicle friendlier).
 
2012-07-30 05:39:34 PM  
www.anonymouspundit.com
 
2012-07-30 05:39:35 PM  
School teaches you a bunch of mathematical operations, like adding, multiplying, integrating, etc. While useful in their own right, it leaves a bit of a gap in math-like thinking. The entire purpose of math is to make things easier, not more difficult. I think students need more examples of how math makes complex problems easier to describe, instead of solely increasing the repertoire of operations they know how to perform.
 
2012-07-30 05:39:36 PM  

degenerate-afro: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Not as long as Raptor Regan has a say in matters

[i.imgur.com image 850x478]

The communists will never succeed!


I love how it's supposed to be a "America, Fark Yeah!" pic, but he's wielding a german SMG and has a russian RPG on his back.
Communism strikes again!

/the velociraptor is mad cool, though
 
2012-07-30 05:40:51 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat: Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:
1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.



I found some of your homework.

[filehurricane.com image 494x371]

hmm.... uh huh... yeah, turns out I don't see what you did there.

It would make more sense if you had not made it *my* homework.

hmm... uh huh... yeah, turns out that I don't care about who you are.

You said something fundamentally stupid, so I objectified you as someone who would put a fundamentally stupid answer on a math test... possibly because you are 'living the dream' of having people who don't understand math teach it to you.

But this objection that it doesn't really apply to you is moot because (as earlier stated) I don't really care about you or want to know that you are an AP Political Science major *.

* Or something

Here's some more

[edge.ebaumsworld.com image 400x216]


I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.
 
2012-07-30 05:40:53 PM  

nacho cheese sauce: FTFA: "But it's not easy to see why potential poets and philosophers face a lofty mathematics bar."

disagree completely. math is prerequisite to coherent philosophical reasoning.


Next you'll tell me that Achilles could catch a tortoise if he gave it a head start.
 
2012-07-30 05:41:10 PM  
(_8(|)

@@@@:-)
 
2012-07-30 05:41:18 PM  
Instead of math, they should teach Chinese. So at least you'll be able to understand your Overlords in 10 years.
 
2012-07-30 05:41:21 PM  

umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.


Taking statistics would be much more useful for non-STEM students throughout their lives. Pre-calc is a waste of time if you are not going to learn calculus. Taking a college bound English course before majoring in Engineering seems useful. I've met a lot of engineers who couldn't write coherent instructions and some who bragged about never reading, even in college.
The point is not to avoid math, but to teach useful math skills, which means calculus for some and statistics for others.
 
2012-07-30 05:42:03 PM  
FTA: "And if there is a shortage of STEM graduates, an equally crucial issue is how many available positions there are for men and women with these skills. A January 2012 analysis from the Georgetown center found 7.5 percent unemployment for engineering graduates and 8.2 percent among computer scientists. "

Let's see... bust your balls taking the hardest courses, the most units (and some of the highest debt because you don't have time to work) and still get paid like sh*t while watching your back (if you can even find a job) because your idiot potential employers would rather H1-B or outsource your ass as soon as they can... or skate though taking business courses, have a life and work on Wall Street for moar money than gawd...

decisions, decisions...
/college kids can do cost-benefit analysis too
 
2012-07-30 05:42:19 PM  

weiserfireman: I think that we have been trying to find "easier" ways to teach math for over 40 years

Evidence is that for the most part, the easier ways are failures.

The key to being good at math is the same as being good at reading. You have to do it and do it and do it and do it. In other words, those old fashioned work books that were full of excercise problems are the way to go. Teach the concept, show some sample problems, have the students do 20 problems over night. Check their work, if they don't have the idea, find common threads in the lack of understanding, assign 50 more problems designed to address the problems. Check them the next day, if they have it, go to the next concept.

The other problem is that many teachers, especially at the elementary level, don't really understand math well enough to understand whether their students get it or not, much less why they don't get it.


This is how I learn math down to a tee. Understand the ideas and methodology, and then practice the heck out of it until it clicks. After a little while I tend to get a a ha moment and it is easily understood from then on.

Most people at college didn't want to sit down and practice. They wanted a life and chase girls. I was married, so that wasn't a problem.
 
2012-07-30 05:42:40 PM  

wingedkat: Ah, so this is an argument about degrees of algebra.


Yeah - technically my kids were taught basic algebra in first grade. This is about how much algebra should be required in order to graduate high school.

Mimic_Octopus: there are no scientists that cant write.


Horseshiat. I used to work with a floor full of PhDs who couldn't write their way out of a paper bag.
 
2012-07-30 05:43:05 PM  
Hopefully you are talking about Abstract Algebra. If you are taking Elementary Algebra in college you are a dumb ass.
 
2012-07-30 05:43:07 PM  

pushpinder: Christ, did a cow crap in here? Figures the article would come from a liberal arts major. Know what, take David Copperfield and shove it up your bung hole! If you can't learn a concept that is a few hundred years old, you're an idiot. Math, at its core, is about problem solving whether it is useful for you in life or not, it builds cognitive skills in looking at a problem, breaking it down and finding a solution. It trains the brain to solve problems. Painting happy trees every day will not help you tackle problems you might encounter in the workplace (though they will make your cubicle friendlier).


This ^^
 
2012-07-30 05:43:30 PM  
The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.
 
2012-07-30 05:45:34 PM  

DarwiOdrade: [www.anonymouspundit.com image 400x535]


The problem here is that a square root of a positive number is both the positive and the negative value. So woman = +/- problem.

She's exists as either the problem or the solution, and you don't know which until you check.

That's probably a more profound truth than the original post.

\Once diagrammed Romeo and Juliet in terms of Lorenz Strange Attractors.
\\They were always doomed.
 
TWX
2012-07-30 05:45:56 PM  
Almost every well-paying long-term career requires both the ability to write and the ability to deal with numbers.

If one can't write, one can't document, can't deal with contracts, can't defend one's work if someone accuses that the work is sub-par. If one can't even read well, then performing basic tasks will be difficult.

If one can't do numbers, one can't calculate costs, can't try out different models for paying workers (hourly/billable-hourly/salaried/contract), can't estimate supplies, or follow technical documents. This even applies to the trades, like plumbing, electrical, and certainly to electronics and low voltage. It OBVIOUSLY applies to engineering and manufacturing.

Those who do badly at math or at writing will find themselves working for someone else, or will find someone else getting the better-paying job who can understand the job. That is literally it.

My job doesn't require a college degree, but I have to deal with numbers and with instructions daily. There are others who I know who would like to be in this field, but they really never will make it unless they're just doing the grunt portion of the job, which pays less.
 
2012-07-30 05:45:57 PM  
Well, hell, if we teach these kids algebra, they're going to think they're too good to take all them field jobs after we run all the illegals out!

Republicans 2012! They'll make sure you're in a low-paying job and make sure you pay more taxes!
 
2012-07-30 05:46:34 PM  
The description of the author of the article says it all:

"Andrew Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science"

I rest my case!!!
 
2012-07-30 05:46:43 PM  

bighairyguy: FloydA: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

$4.71

BZZZZT! Incorrect! The correct answer in the liberal agenda education system is: MEAT IS MURDER!!!



Shows what you know. The answer "Meat is Murder" goes with the question "What was the second album by English alt/rock band The Smiths?" It's not even a math question!
 
2012-07-30 05:47:54 PM  
FTFA: "A January 2012 analysis from the Georgetown center found 7.5 percent unemployment for engineering graduates and 8.2 percent among computer scientists."

So what's the unemployment rate among actors?
 
2012-07-30 05:48:05 PM  
i134.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 05:49:12 PM  

FloydA: bighairyguy: FloydA: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

$4.71

BZZZZT! Incorrect! The correct answer in the liberal agenda education system is: MEAT IS MURDER!!!


Shows what you know. The answer "Meat is Murder" goes with the question "What was the second album by English alt/rock band The Smiths?" It's not even a math question!


If meat = murder, then murder = delicious.
 
2012-07-30 05:49:29 PM  

ElLoco: At what point will brake application result in insufficient reduction of momentum to avoid collision requiring you to calculate the proper trajectory and starting velocity in which to disembark the train with statistically the least likely result being farked up beyond all recognition?


Easy!
It's too late when one choo-choo hits the other choo-choo!
Duh!

/on a side note, tiring to learn linear algebra on your own produces headaches
//my head hurts
 
2012-07-30 05:49:40 PM  

caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.


What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.
 
2012-07-30 05:51:17 PM  

buckler: caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.

What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.


(and yes, I know I was being trolled then. If I were the type to include smiley-emoticons, I'd probably put one here.)
 
2012-07-30 05:51:34 PM  

red5ish: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Taking statistics would be much more useful for non-STEM students throughout their lives. Pre-calc is a waste of time if you are not going to learn calculus. Taking a college bound English course before majoring in Engineering seems useful. I've met a lot of engineers who couldn't write coherent instructions and some who bragged about never reading, even in college.
The point is not to avoid math, but to teach useful math skills, which means calculus for some and statistics for others.


True, precalc & college algebra are not particularly useful for the general population, but basic & intermediate algebra (aka Algebra I and II) are pretty useful for just about everyone.
 
2012-07-30 05:51:40 PM  
Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.

But why learn even the basics of the language of all creation when you could just pound out a degree in political science and get paid to expand stupid questions in the New York Times into a thousand word screed against basic competency, right?
 
2012-07-30 05:52:34 PM  
How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?
 
2012-07-30 05:52:49 PM  

wingedkat: downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.


To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

At a certain point you need PhDs and PostDocs teaching concepts but maybe not to anyone lower than a Masters. There's a reason we have an entire curriculum devoted to Elementary Ed.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:18 PM  
So, I've scanned the thread and come up with two additional reasons that this is a horrible idea that people have not touched on yet:

1. First, even if you don't use a discipline regularly, and even if you forget a lot of it, that fact that you were once familiar with it gives you a huge advantage if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use it to solve a problem. Ask any engineer: Most days he won't go around applying Green's theorem to a closed curve or evaluating optical transmission matrices with in materials with anisotropic complex-valued permittivity, but the fact that he studied how to do it at some point means that if he ever finds himself confronted with a similar problem, he at least has a starting point for how to approach the problem. He may not remember exactly what to do, but at the very least, he can remember that he has a textbook somewhere with a chapter dealing with this very thing.

Having studied algebra at some point just might mean the difference between thinking "Hey, I could solve this if I looked up the quadratic formula" and "Huh, I have no idea what to do here, it must not be that important."

2. The more important reason that eliminating the algebra requirement is dumb, though, is that high school is supposed to provide a broad education, in part because most high-schoolers haven't specialized yet. They haven't been exposed to enough different fields to really decide what they even want to do yet. An important part of high school is to introduce kids to enough of a variety of subjects that they can intelligently pick which ones they'd want to focus on - sometimes forcing a kid to take a year of algebra or a year of world history or a year of english lit can expose him to ideas that he might wind up liking. I understand that not everyone is college-track, and that's fine, but I am horrified at the trend of allowing kids to deprive themselves of future choices earlier and earlier, and with less and less knowledge about what they're even choosing not to do.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:22 PM  

doyner: FTFA: "A January 2012 analysis from the Georgetown center found 7.5 percent unemployment for engineering graduates and 8.2 percent among computer scientists."

So what's the unemployment rate among actors?


Saw this in an article, sums it up pretty nicely.



A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:26 PM  

This text is now purple: She's exists as either the problem or the solution, and you don't know which until you check.


So the solution to the question can be found by putting her in a box with a vile of cyanide?

I like it!
 
2012-07-30 05:54:00 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.


By the time I reached high school, Carl Sagan had convinced me that what I really wanted to be was a cosmologist. However, I found that I just didn't have the chops for math, so instead of doing science, I ended up interpreting science for others. I found I was good at that, and enjoyed it immensely.
 
2012-07-30 05:54:47 PM  
Math is a fundamental aspect of life. I would argue that it's absolutely required for critical thinking and long term success.

The problem is how it's taught. The teachers are either complete morons that don't even really want to do math themselves or they're so focused on the subject that they're no good at teaching it to normal people. The issue runs very deep, the education system itself failed to educate the educators properly.
 
2012-07-30 05:55:36 PM  

wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


Yeah, I'd be all for teaching basic statistics in high school, if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.
 
2012-07-30 05:56:50 PM  

This text is now purple: The problem here is that a square root of a positive number is both the positive and the negative value. So woman = +/- problem.


No. Commute that to

problem = (+/-) woman

Woman, can't live with em, can't live without em
 
2012-07-30 05:57:27 PM  
When people talk about algebra, they usually mean polynomials or something like "find the dimension of a rectangle whose length is 9 less than twice its width if the perimeter is 120 cm."

Math is about identifying and understanding patterns. That you can use the same variable for length and width is important. That you can take information that initially looks unrelated and solve a problem is important.

Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?

Probably, yes. I'd argue that that's more of a sociology or political science class than a math class, if you're focusing on interpreting numbers or defining terms.

NO. Statistics is about drawing conclusions based on the distribution of points. Recognizing the function that governs the distribution and thus defines what properties we can expect from the points.
mean X = (1/n) Sum(X) is algebra
standard dev X= (1/n-1)Sum(X-meanX) is algebra
Don't argue with me that this is high level statistics as mean and standard deviation is very very basic stuff, and putting one formula into another is introduced in college algebra.

I would defend my statement, but Baba Waba did a pretty good job of that. I could have used different terminology, but I still stand by my statement, most people do not use algebra in everyday lives. Answering for x in the above example is basic elementary word problems. Most people can figure that out, it's applied mathematics. But algebraic concepts like quadratic equations? Not used.

What world do you live in that everything is related linearly? You have space and velocity but no acceleration?

I think there might be some value to introducing them earlier, mostly because the students will be introduced to calculators and computers at an early age regardless of how the school approaches it. There's no harm in showing students how use tools properly.

I tutored a home schooled girl who's mother let her use a calculator. She could not progress past 5th grade level because she could not recognize the patterns numbers make. She could not identify 36 as a square or tell me the roots of 12 because she'd always used a calculator.

The problem is with convincing kids that mad mathz skillz are important- you've got to remember, these are little idiots with - as a matter of course - no properly developed concept of what the future holds for them. In more traditional societies and in the developing world, it's easy: The motivation is "because your parents want you to" or "because learning as much as you can will get you out of this place". In the US and elsewhere in the West, it's harder: You have to convince them that they will need these skills in the future.

When I was asked "when am I ever going to use this?" by a student, I'd answer "I don't know, Tell me exactly what your future holds and I'll only teach the math that you need. Math, Logic and Pattern Recognition are powerful tools, Since you don't know what your future holds, don't you think you should get as many tools as possible?"

no you dont. there are no scientists that cant write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me" it is their job to provide specialized high tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own thanks.

You are thinking of trade school/apprenticeships. Universities ARE supposed to round you. While I'll concede that there are scientists who can't write, there are few if any SUCCESSFUL scientist that can't write. If the reader can't figure out what you are saying, your papers will not be published and your proposals will not be funded. It doesn't matter how brilliant you are if it can not be communicated, and it doesn't matter who well you can diagram a sentence if you have nothing to say. The rounding done at universities allows people to communicate with others not directly in their field. Cross disciplinary work leads to new insights in both fields. I can give you references (from the field of information management) if you like.
 
2012-07-30 05:57:41 PM  

buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.


There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.
 
2012-07-30 05:57:58 PM  

Gyrfalcon: if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.

n
 
2012-07-30 05:59:43 PM  

Gyrfalcon: Yeah, I'd be all for teaching basic statistics in high school, if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.


Duh... neutral. It's right next to the R.
 
2012-07-30 06:01:27 PM  

Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.


Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.
 
2012-07-30 06:01:42 PM  

ElLoco: It's right next to the R.


Does that mean on the other side of N is "D"?

/This analogy actually works quite well :-)
 
2012-07-30 06:02:17 PM  

Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.


That's the problem. You expect your teacher to "explain" something that is fundamentally visually based.

These expectations are really YOUR issue and not an issue with your teachers.

Blame the teacher if you can't persuade them to give you the grade that you want.
 
2012-07-30 06:02:39 PM  
i regret not being proficient with numbers. it has cost me greatly in life, in both dollars and hobbies like music.

/a million Brazilian dollars
 
2012-07-30 06:02:42 PM  
Emphasis should be on understanding concepts and building critical thinking skills. I loved algebra, hell I even liked calculus, but long division is the most mindless thing I ever had the learn. Making a 10 year old do that shiat on paper dozens of times is farking stupid. What does 105788937 divided by 137 equal? It equals go fark yourself.
 
2012-07-30 06:02:42 PM  

buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.


Math doesn't have "creative" answers, dear. Math is. You can be as "creative" as you want, but 2+2 must ALWAYS equal 4. And in an equation where 2 + x = 4, solve for x, the answer better not be, "Well, if you consider that 2 is a relative number, depending on whether you're talking about two people having sex and one of their partners is in the closet spying on them, it could really be three, so my answer is three."

The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.
 
2012-07-30 06:03:04 PM  

red5ish: How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?


Part of being a successful attorney is having a well-rounded education. Part of having a well-rounded education includes taking classes that don't necessarily have anything to do with your career.

You don't take most of your college courses to learn the facts in the courses, you take them to exercise your mind and make you aware of the larger world outside your own life. If you don't want to do that, go to a trade school and spend the rest of your life as a welder making "good money" at twenty bucks an hour.
 
2012-07-30 06:04:03 PM  
I read that in Edward Longshanks' voice.
 
2012-07-30 06:04:19 PM  
Coming to a theater country near you.

ecx.images-amazon.com
 
2012-07-30 06:04:54 PM  
But don't you guys get it! Algebra is hard! If we stops teaching the hard math then no one has to worry about learning anymore of that hard math stuff anymore and the problem goes away *poof* problem solved OKAY GUYS.
 
2012-07-30 06:05:54 PM  
i think the best way to compete with the chinese is to produce more polysci majors. oh wait, i just realized that there is not a single thing that the modern consumer wants, that a polysci major can produce.
 
2012-07-30 06:06:01 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: welder making "good money" at twenty bucks an hour.


welders can make a heck of a lot more than that
 
2012-07-30 06:06:07 PM  
If college algebra and trig are to complicated for you, you have no business having a degree. If high school algebra and trig are too complicated for you, you have no business being a high school graduate. Saying you don't need basic numeracy is like saying you don't need literacy. But since this fail-the-children ideology permeates modern America, the percentage of people needing remedial english and math at universities is on the rise.
 
2012-07-30 06:07:05 PM  

mr lawson: Voiceofreason01: conceptual level how to solve that problem

a: apply brakes

or

b: JUMP!


Senator Bob is trying to decide on how to vote on an upcoming healthcare bill. The bill would require everyone's insurance to cover basic preventative care. This bill will not result in any additional healthcare being used but will cause a shift where 1/4 of the time someone uses healthcare they will use Ordinary Health Care(OHC) instead of Emergency Health Car(EHC), 1 EHC is three times more expensive than 1 OHC. Which would save more money, voting "yes" or "no"?
 
2012-07-30 06:08:01 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I must have been lucky. My high school in Michigan didn't force kids into those. I mean, I took all the math I could as I was college bound, but they had enough basic math courses you could get your requirements

Granted, this was in 98, so they may have increased the amounts you need to graduate.
 
2012-07-30 06:08:02 PM  
Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.

Percentages are normalized - you fail at math.
 
2012-07-30 06:09:08 PM  
Yes! I love it when articles are posted that give us STEM farkers even more reason to make fun of liberal arts!

/physics MS student
 
2012-07-30 06:09:09 PM  

red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.


"LIBRARY SCIENCE"?? How is that even a thing? Libraries are already obsolete. We don't organize information this way anymore. I'm not saying that in any way we don't NEED books, but we don't get physical books out of a lending library. Even publishers don't care for that anymore. I don't see any use for a "Library Scientist" unless the term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether.
 
2012-07-30 06:09:36 PM  

Voiceofreason01: Senator Bob is trying to decide on how to vote on an upcoming healthcare bill. The bill would require everyone's insurance to cover basic preventative care. This bill will not result in any additional healthcare being used but will cause a shift where 1/4 of the time someone uses healthcare they will use Ordinary Health Care(OHC) instead of Emergency Health Car(EHC), 1 EHC is three times more expensive than 1 OHC. Which would save more money, voting "yes" or "no"?


Answer: Whichever lobby group gave Sen. Bob more money.
 
2012-07-30 06:10:17 PM  

red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.


That's exactly the problem isn't it, there is no demand for 'fine arts' degrees but people keep taking it instead of a career where there is demand like the sciences. Everyone wants to be a farking movie star i guess.
 
2012-07-30 06:10:25 PM  
Since half the kids in grade school now will end up in the thought worker category of business, YES, YES ALGEBRA IS FARKING IMPORTANT
 
2012-07-30 06:10:59 PM  

GF named my left testicle thundercles: i think the best way to compete with the chinese is to produce more polysci majors. oh wait, i just realized that there is not a single thing that the modern consumer wants, that a polysci major can produce.


Porn. They can make lots of porn.
Some small subset of folks still pay for that.
 
2012-07-30 06:11:12 PM  

wingedkat: Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


I don't understand how you could teach stats without algebra, so here's a picture of a book that teaches The Calculus without limits:

i158.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 06:11:50 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


How on Earth do you plan on teaching stats to kids who can't do algebra?
 
2012-07-30 06:12:48 PM  

EvilEgg: Relevant TED talk


The correct answer is you go to the right lane because paying takes more than 4 times the time scanning an item does, giving us: (3 + 5 + 2 + 1)x + 4(4x) > 19x + 4x. Pay attention and you'll notice that scanning an item is done in a second or two while paying (cash and plastic) takes up at least 10 seconds. Switching tasks (scanning to processing the payment to going back to scanning) takes some time to, which should be added as should people who aren't moving on. But for simplicity's sake I left those out.
 
2012-07-30 06:13:18 PM  
There are a number of draconian mathematical concepts that are taught for little reason.

Algebra is not one of these concepts.
 
2012-07-30 06:13:37 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


No, you just multiplied by 3. That's not algebra, its basic arithmetic
 
2012-07-30 06:14:09 PM  

andrewagill: wingedkat: Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?

I don't understand how you could teach stats without algebra, so here's a picture of a book that teaches The Calculus without limits:

[i158.photobucket.com image 640x819]


or better yet..

ck-12 org
 
2012-07-30 06:15:31 PM  

Gyrfalcon: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

Math doesn't have "creative" answers, dear. Math is. You can be as "creative" as you want, but 2+2 must ALWAYS equal 4. And in an equation where 2 + x = 4, solve for x, the answer better not be, "Well, if you consider that 2 is a relative number, depending on whether you're talking about two people having sex and one of their partners is in the closet spying on them, it could really be three, so my answer is three."

The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.


When I say "accurate", I mean in the sense that the answers may not make sense from a mathematics point of view, they make perfect sense from a language point of view. It's the clash of two disciplines.
 
2012-07-30 06:16:09 PM  

Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.


Only until you need to think up something original. Then you need a Westerner, and preferably, an American.
 
2012-07-30 06:16:31 PM  

mr lawson: andrewagill: wingedkat: Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?

I don't understand how you could teach stats without algebra, so here's a picture of a book that teaches The Calculus without limits:

[i158.photobucket.com image 640x819]

or better yet..

ck-12 org


This book has limits in the first chapter. Isaac Newton would be displeased.
 
2012-07-30 06:16:47 PM  

KrispyKritter: i regret not being proficient with numbers. it has cost me greatly in life, in both dollars and hobbies like music.

/a million Brazilian dollars


$489,799.09
 
2012-07-30 06:16:48 PM  

Oznog: red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.

"LIBRARY SCIENCE"?? How is that even a thing? Libraries are already obsolete. We don't organize information this way anymore. I'm not saying that in any way we don't NEED books, but we don't get physical books out of a lending library. Even publishers don't care for that anymore. I don't see any use for a "Library Scientist" unless the term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether.


The term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether in many ways. Don't kid yourself though, there are still huge libraries that require librarians, and a lot of library science is learning how to do research which is quite useful.
 
2012-07-30 06:17:04 PM  

dopekitty74: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

No, you just multiplied by 3. That's not algebra, its basic arithmetic


x = 2.99

3x = ?

/yup, no algebra there!
 
2012-07-30 06:18:06 PM  

mr lawson: welders can make a heck of a lot more than that


But on average, they don't. Regardless, the point is that if you don't want a well-rounded education and just want to learn a trade, there are trade schools available. Colleges are not and should not be in the business of cranking out tradesmen.

However, if you want to be one of the big-timers - a Fortune 500 CEO, a neurosurgeon, a high-powered lawyer - you need a strong, well-rounded background and a flexible mind and that's what colleges are for. Colleges give you those things by exposing you to a wide variety of topics that require a wide variety of mental skills to understand and absorb. Part of that involves maths that you may not, ultimately, have any practical use for. The point isn't the maths, that point is the exposure to that sort of thinking so that you have that general flexibility.

Higher level math should be taught in public school to expose kids to their options. It should be taught across all college programs to some extent to expose students to the type of thinking required. To argue that it should be pulled back because some people aren't good at it is absurd. The purpose of high school and college isn't good grades.
 
2012-07-30 06:18:53 PM  

red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.


It's a mistake to view this exclusively in the light of % of people getting JOBS exclusively in that discipline. You don't score the value of people knowing history by the % of jobs created in the "History" field.

One thing I heard Sandra Day O'Connor lament on the Daily Show was that NCLB had placed value exclusively on math and reading, to the detriment of civics. Consequently it appears fewer and fewer people understand the basic structure of US govt, that the POTUS does not direct the Supreme Court, nor does he "make laws". And that "activist judges" is truly an absurd term indicative of a basic misunderstanding of the Judicial Branch. "Activist Judges" determined the very principle of segregation was inconsistent with the US Constitution, despite a quagmire of laws created by Legislative and signed by Executive, all with popular support. To say that they should not overrule Legislative/Executive decisions is to nullify their basic check-and-balance power and basically say that "a law cannot be wrong", because legislature is infallible. Like the Pope.
 
2012-07-30 06:18:54 PM  
Also, I read the headline in this guy's voice:
images.hollywood.com
 
2012-07-30 06:19:09 PM  

saintstryfe: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Only until you need to think up something original. Then you need a Westerner, and preferably, an American.


This is true. Not strictly a "Westerner", though, someone of Northern European heritage.
 
2012-07-30 06:19:25 PM  
Algebra and Computers are racist.
 
2012-07-30 06:20:03 PM  
I taught part-time (homework center help) at a small college where the students were by and large unimpressive.

The ones who needed the most help were in what I guess was basic algebra. Fractions with variables, stuff like that.

It's really, really hard to teach factoring to kids who have trouble grasping negative numbers. I'm still stumped at how to explain it, since to me it's been an intuitive / guess and check sorta thing.
 
2012-07-30 06:20:08 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


This.

As someone in a STEM field, have I used "algebra" much in my career? No. Have I used deductive logic that was introduced to me at a young age through the vehicle of Algebra? Yes, hourly.
 
2012-07-30 06:20:31 PM  

andrewagill: This book has limits in the first chapter. Isaac Newton would be displeased.


Nah. he would be very pleased. Newton wuz no pussy!
YO! He wuz badazz, bro.
/unlike kids today.
 
2012-07-30 06:20:36 PM  

Grand_Moff_Joseph:
For example: No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares "why" 2+2=4, or "why" limits and log functions work the way that they do. Why are spending half of a test writing proofs for these concepts? We should be using those tests to apply the ideas to problems, and find reality-based ways to solve them.


Might want to be careful about slinging around absolutes there. I certainly agree that most people don't care, but I certainly enjoyed learning the 'why's behind that wonderful logic system we call math in my theoretical math courses in college. Definitely agree that there's no point in bringing it up earlier, tho, especially in lieu of more practically-based math.
 
2012-07-30 06:20:38 PM  

moravaman: Algebra and Computers are racist.


baptistplanet.wordpress.com
 
2012-07-30 06:21:30 PM  

Explodo: Kimothy: I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.

I'll bet you use algebra more than you think. Any time you see a package of 10 somethings for y dollars you might think about how each one of those things costs y/10. That's algebra, Bud.


No, that's division. A basic math skill, generally taught by fourth grade or so.

/Again, not saying we don't need to be teaching algebra - we should - but we definitely don't use it very much. (Well, except where all these farkers seem to think that if the potential for a variable exists, it must be algebra and not applied math.
 
2012-07-30 06:22:04 PM  

surrealbowl: Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?

Maybe per capita type stuff, but confidence intervals and margin of error would be difficult without algebra.


"Per capita" implies a ratio. Ratios and proportions are algebra.
 
2012-07-30 06:22:23 PM  

saintstryfe: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Only until you need to think up something original. Then you need a Westerner, and preferably, an American a German Scientist taken after WW2.


FTFY

//sorry just watched Nazi Hunters, amazed how much the German Scientists moved things forward in the US.
 
2012-07-30 06:22:48 PM  

Russky: That's exactly the problem isn't it, there is no demand for 'fine arts' degrees but people keep taking it instead of a career where there is demand like the sciences. Everyone wants to be a farking movie star i guess.


No, that's not the problem. You are ignoring the problem, which is supply and demand. If everybody studied engineering there would soon be no demand for engineers and other fields would be in demand. This is basic economics.
 
2012-07-30 06:22:55 PM  

pushpinder: Christ, did a cow crap in here? Figures the article would come from a liberal arts major. Know what, take David Copperfield and shove it up your bung hole! If you can't learn a concept that is a few hundred years old, you're an idiot. Math, at its core, is about problem solving whether it is useful for you in life or not, it builds cognitive skills in looking at a problem, breaking it down and finding a solution. It trains the brain to solve problems. Painting happy trees every day will not help you tackle problems you might encounter in the workplace (though they will make your cubicle friendlier).


This guy disagrees...
 
2012-07-30 06:23:19 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Regardless, the point is


Lol..dude...trust me...i know (and agree) with the point your were making. No argument on that here.

Major: B.S. Economics
Minor: B.A. Poly Sci
 
2012-07-30 06:24:12 PM  
Do we need algebra? Yes. Personally, i find that i use more trig in my day to day life, but i do a lot of woodworking/metal fab.
 
2012-07-30 06:24:20 PM  

Dafatone: I taught part-time (homework center help) at a small college where the students were by and large unimpressive.

The ones who needed the most help were in what I guess was basic algebra. Fractions with variables, stuff like that.

It's really, really hard to teach factoring to kids who have trouble grasping negative numbers. I'm still stumped at how to explain it, since to me it's been an intuitive / guess and check sorta thing.


I always found language to be interpretive, but math to be incomprehensible. The "one right way, one right answer" approach just never clicked with me. I always wanted to ask "but why is that the case?", and found "because it's a fundamental property of our universe," to be unsatisfying as an answer. I'm not saying that isn't the case, but the way in which my brain approaches problems just doesn't seem to mesh with it, for some reason.
 
2012-07-30 06:26:14 PM  
I may not use calculus directly in everyday life, but the understanding is there and I feel I understand the world a bit better because of it. Algebra even more so. Just because most adults don't solve for X on a daily basis, doesn't mean there is not a benefit from a fundamental understanding of it that influences their thoughts and actions. It is utterly irresponsible to deny kids that same learning. "Because it's hard" is simply not a valid excuse.

Mathematical literacy is even more important than ever in day to day life. Companies routinely obscure costs with tricks (cellphone and cable companies...I'm look at you, you assholes!). Your employers no longer give a damn about your retirement via pensions...here's a 401k program...good luck to you!

/I can't believe someone is trying to make a case for getting rid of any math education.
 
2012-07-30 06:26:40 PM  
"I always found language to be intuitive..." Damn me.
 
2012-07-30 06:27:04 PM  

Babwa Wawa: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.


This.

If you think that the failure rate of college algebra is negatively affecting your retention, your priorities are totally backwards. The point isn't to get more people out the door with degrees, it's to get people out the door with worthwhile degrees. For instance, most social science majors need to understand stats, and any stats class requires mastering algebra. But go ahead and keep graduating economics majors without any math skills.
 
2012-07-30 06:27:51 PM  
Okay, math is hard so you want to lower the standards. That's always been a great move. Increase the success rate for kids in school by making everything easier and getting rid of the hard subjects. That when added to the "don't keep score, everyone's a winner" attitude already out there in schools, and our future is farked.
 
2012-07-30 06:28:24 PM  

buzzcut73: I -really- hated being shown something, understanding it, and being told I needed to do it 50 more times every night.


I hate that, too. I got in trouble in middle school because I wasn't doing the homework. I wasn't doing the homework because I didn't like to waste my time on something I had already mastered. My dad had a discussion with them. They switched me to a more advance curriculum, except they didn't have anyone who could teach us the work and there was only three of us, so they couldn't justify hiring another math teacher.

/not Asian
 
2012-07-30 06:28:53 PM  

red5ish: Russky: That's exactly the problem isn't it, there is no demand for 'fine arts' degrees but people keep taking it instead of a career where there is demand like the sciences. Everyone wants to be a farking movie star i guess.

No, that's not the problem. You are ignoring the problem, which is supply and demand. If everybody studied engineering there would soon be no demand for engineers and other fields would be in demand. This is basic economics.


I'm not ignoring it at all, the point being there is a higher demand right now for scientific degrees but people aren't taking those. Obviously if everyone studied engineering there wouldn't be as much of a demand and if I stopped breathing I'd die, but both these points are well......obvious.
 
2012-07-30 06:31:17 PM  

lockers: If college algebra and trig are to complicated for you, you have no business having a degree. If high school algebra and trig are too complicated for you, you have no business being a high school graduate. Saying you don't need basic numeracy is like saying you don't need literacy. But since this fail-the-children ideology permeates modern America, the percentage of people needing remedial english and math at universities is on the rise.


I never took, and do not have much knowledge of trig. Heck, I got kicked out of advanced algebra. And I've done just fine in life.

Everyone thinks differently. You may use trig to solve a real-world problem... I would probably use something completely different made up in my mind.
 
2012-07-30 06:31:20 PM  

tortilla burger: School teaches you a bunch of mathematical operations, like adding, multiplying, integrating, etc. While useful in their own right, it leaves a bit of a gap in math-like thinking. The entire purpose of math is to make things easier, not more difficult. I think students need more examples of how math makes complex problems easier to describe, instead of solely increasing the repertoire of operations they know how to perform.


the purpose of algebra is to resolve complex mathematical concepts into a series of logical steps that lead through an process to an answer

it is to reduce the macrotic difficulty into simple microcity.

or, since you are SO STUPID... its like washing 20 plates one at a time instead of having to figure out how to run a dishwasher. (not precise but accurate)

The problem with algebra is simply that these stupid little shiat kids are never required to THINK IN AN ORDERED MANNER.
 
2012-07-30 06:31:39 PM  

meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.


3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-07-30 06:32:55 PM  

EvilEgg: Relevant TED talk


Wow, thanks for that. Very very good stuff.
 
2012-07-30 06:33:22 PM  
The Problem with American schools is that we basically have the same program of study for 12 years.

I'm in a PhD program, and the Americans are 10% of the cohort. The Other 90% have at least 8-12 more semesters of math than we do. They get it Earlier and they get it deeper. At Age 10 or so, most of them are asked to pick from three or four "focus streams" that direct them towards jobs in Technical skills, arts, literature or Theory. They then cut the items that are 'least useful' to their focus pool and double-up on the items that are more important. Doing this while students still have enormous mental plasticity Allows a level of achievement in those realms that is genuinely surprising.

It's not that they have taken more math - they are acculturated to mathematical culture.

While I think the goal of having well-rounded students is important, I think you do that by letting them take what they want, not taking subjects that they don't like and will probably stink at. I hated taking lots of stupid pointless classes in College and High School. I wanted to take another language, or art, or shop or Math. Screw Literature - I'd been reading at a college level since 3rd grade.and Screw the Hell out of Gym. More music classes? I'd love that.
 
2012-07-30 06:34:21 PM  

Gyrfalcon: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

Math doesn't have "creative" answers, dear. Math is. You can be as "creative" as you want, but 2+2 must ALWAYS equal 4. And in an equation where 2 + x = 4, solve for x, the answer better not be, "Well, if you consider that 2 is a relative number, depending on whether you're talking about two people having sex and one of their partners is in the closet spying on them, it could really be three, so my answer is three."

The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.


Math isn't hard science. The "proofs" side of algebra, i.e. proving that 2 + 2 = 4, is all about being creative.
 
2012-07-30 06:34:40 PM  

rockforever: Bring back shop


The machinists I have known did algebra and trig on the fly, even if they didn't call it that. "The toolholder on this lathe reads radius rather than diameter, and it's angled at 30 degrees, so to take another 10 mils off of the diameter I have to take it in just a bit under six mils according to the dial..." (I have forgotten what the controls are called; it's been years.)

On another occasion, I brought my International Harvester Scout into a shop, and informed the mechanic that if he took in out on the highway, he needed to know that the last shop (which didn't know squat about Harvester) had installed a speedometer cable that read 85% of what it should. He asked "So, if the speedometer says 60, you're really doing 70?" I said "Yep."
 
2012-07-30 06:35:10 PM  

dopekitty74: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

No, you just multiplied by 3. That's not algebra, its basic arithmetic


Welcome to Linear Equations.

Come for the Algebra, stay for the Pi (or 1/2 Tau, if you prefer)
 
2012-07-30 06:35:29 PM  

rubi_con_man: They get it Earlier and they get it deeper.


I uh...

erm...
 
2012-07-30 06:36:23 PM  
Teaching the poor to make correct change is capitalism.

Teaching the poor to calculate compound interest is communism.

The banks have spoken, and they are our gods.
 
2012-07-30 06:36:34 PM  

Meesterjojo: Pi (or 1/2 Tau, if you prefer)


If you prefer Tau, you don't get to do The Calculus.
 
2012-07-30 06:36:53 PM  
State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.

For the record, this argument applied to English would be:

"State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master two-syllable words and telling a verb from a noun."

This is pretty basic stuff that's vital to basic functioning in society here. It's the technical version of functional literacy. Things like calculating your gas mileage and creating a personal budget so you don't go into debt require algebra, which makes the "this isn't personal finance" comment rather puzzling as well.

//A 700 on an SAT subject test isn't quite the unreachable high bar the idiot writer seems to think it is, either. It's decent, yes, but the SAT is a literacy test, not a competence test, and to get into programs that actually specialize in some form of math you're not getting anywhere without an 800. 700 for a general program is a bit high for a general knowledge requirement, but only a bit high. I didn't get out of the English proficiency requirement for general knowledge for going into a chemistry program, the logic of requiring some roundedness of students isn't limited to the liberal arts.
 
2012-07-30 06:36:54 PM  

Oznog: One thing I heard Sandra Day O'Connor lament on the Daily Show was that NCLB had placed value exclusively on math and reading, to the detriment of civics. Consequently it appears fewer and fewer people understand the basic structure of US govt, that the POTUS does not direct the Supreme Court, nor does he "make laws". And that "activist judges" is truly an absurd term indicative of a basic misunderstanding of the Judicial Branch.


Roger Taney and Charles Hughes beg to differ.

\Granted, doing so destroyed the legacy of both.
 
2012-07-30 06:36:58 PM  
While we're on the topic lets get rid of english class as well. Reading and writing are way overrated, plus it's causing kids distress when they don't succeed.
 
2012-07-30 06:37:15 PM  
Math isn't about the math in and of itself, it is about problem solving and figuring out answers. Not many people need to know some long winded formula and why A+B=C but it really is about figuring out the answers and solving a problem. I am currently enrolled at a "for-profit" college and some of the idiots that come through the doors amaze me, they can't figure out how to do the simplest things on their own. I really think that math is a way to figure out problem solving in life.
 
2012-07-30 06:37:36 PM  

prjindigo: tortilla burger: School teaches you a bunch of mathematical operations, like adding, multiplying, integrating, etc. While useful in their own right, it leaves a bit of a gap in math-like thinking. The entire purpose of math is to make things easier, not more difficult. I think students need more examples of how math makes complex problems easier to describe, instead of solely increasing the repertoire of operations they know how to perform.

the purpose of algebra is to resolve complex mathematical concepts into a series of logical steps that lead through an process to an answer

it is to reduce the macrotic difficulty into simple microcity.

or, since you are SO STUPID... its like washing 20 plates one at a time instead of having to figure out how to run a dishwasher. (not precise but accurate)

The problem with algebra is simply that these stupid little shiat kids are never required to THINK IN AN ORDERED MANNER.


Yes they are and have been. PEMDAS.

We were still teaching that useful little term a few years ago to remember the ORDER OF OPERATIONS.
They are required to think in an ordered manner to get the answers correct. However, they CHOOSE not to or are incapable of doing so.
 
2012-07-30 06:38:22 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Part of having a well-rounded education includes taking classes that don't necessarily have anything to do with your career.


This is profoundly true.

I would stipulate that there is a point where learning more about a subject becomes counterproductive not only to the goal of getting a well-rounded education but also an education that will be useful. Education is, to a certain extent, a zero sum game, since most people have limited funds and a limited amount of time to attain their formal education.
 
2012-07-30 06:38:24 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

That's the problem. You expect your teacher to "explain" something that is fundamentally visually based.

These expectations are really YOUR issue and not an issue with your teachers.

Blame the teacher if you can't persuade them to give you the grade that you want.


My degree requires courses up through Difficult Equations (with Stats and Combinatorial courses out to the side) so I understand what you mean by visual. But still "to teach" is to pass on information and skills and if the people teaching lack the skills to do that then I can see why, unless you come into a class already understanding the material (which many Engineering and Math students do), it could be frustrating for an Arts and Crafts major to overcome.
 
2012-07-30 06:41:19 PM  

rubi_con_man: I'm in a PhD program, and the Americans are 10% of the cohort. The Other 90% have at least 8-12 more semesters of math than we do. They get it Earlier and they get it deeper. At Age 10 or so, most of them are asked to pick from three or four "focus streams" that direct them towards jobs in Technical skills, arts, literature or Theory. They then cut the items that are 'least useful' to their focus pool and double-up on the items that are more important. Doing this while students still have enormous mental plasticity Allows a level of achievement in those realms that is genuinely surprising.

It's not that they have taken more math - they are acculturated to mathematical culture.


Three questions:
1. You are attending a school in the United States, correct?
2. How many of their less-able countrymen are you not seeing?
3. How often are they cheating in their classes?
 
2012-07-30 06:41:38 PM  

red5ish: Oznog: red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.

"LIBRARY SCIENCE"?? How is that even a thing? Libraries are already obsolete. We don't organize information this way anymore. I'm not saying that in any way we don't NEED books, but we don't get physical books out of a lending library. Even publishers don't care for that anymore. I don't see any use for a "Library Scientist" unless the term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether.

The term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether in many ways. Don't kid yourself though, there are still huge libraries that require librarians, and a lot of library science is learning how to do research which is quite useful.


As a librarian myself, I'll take this:

A, libraries are hardly obsolete. Maybe they are for how you used them - big box of encyclopedias and paper journals for school papers - but there are other options. But lots of people use libraries for lots of reasons. Libraries are community meeting places. They're a place many people go - job seekers, parents, children, seniors, people with limited budgets, people who need specialized information, all of them go to libraries. A good public library is the heart and mind of a neighborhood. It teaches its children, informs its public servants, entertains its citizens and enriches everyone.

B, Even how you used libraries still exists. Now-a-days, rather then being gatekeepers for the Encyclopedia, now librarians work to help filter the masses of information. In a world where a google search finds you 100 thousand hits, and maybe a few are relevant and accurate, a lot of people need help, especially when the target is academic or business-related, where accuracy is more important then on Fark.

C, And that's completely ignoring the dozens of non-public/school libraries there are - corporate libraries, for instance. Many companies have internal libraries to look up information related to their business and that of their industry. Archives, Records Management, keeping a history of a place, a company, an organization, that's all under the purview of the librarian. (yes, I know there are RM people who hate being lumped with librarians - tough shat, it's my post).

D, You are right in that "Library Science" is not the most preferred term - some people really hate being called a library scientist or a librarian. These people prefer the term "Information Scientist" - indeed, the school I went to was called the "School of Library and Information Sciences" (SILS for short). Librarian is a more... human word to me, so I prefer it. But I can dig where they come from.

And finally , E, you think we handle just books? Ha. Maybe 30% of my day is paper on a busy day. The rest is digital. Subscription databases, e-magazines, journal databases, e-Lending libraries, digital archives, I handle more tech then some IT guys. Remember: we brought this. We've lived in this world for 20 years now where most people just got it 6 or 8. We've adapted, and will adapt however it goes forward.

So please, don't step. We've been here, we ain't going no where. As long as there is data, as long as it has to be sorted, portioned and doled out, as long as there's students who need to know facts, and business reports to be written, while there's paper that needs to be preserved and digital files that need to be kept, we are going no where. We're Librarians.
 
2012-07-30 06:42:27 PM  
And we wonder why we're broke
 
2012-07-30 06:42:44 PM  
img441.imageshack.us
 
2012-07-30 06:43:09 PM  
I will just leave this here:

The Feeling Of Power by Isaac Asimov

\Dude was right in sooooo many ways.
 
2012-07-30 06:43:22 PM  

buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.


Same here. cute, really.
 
2012-07-30 06:44:20 PM  

Russky: saintstryfe: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Only until you need to think up something original. Then you need a Westerner, and preferably, an American a German Scientist taken after WW2.

FTFY

//sorry just watched Nazi Hunters, amazed how much the German Scientists moved things forward in the US.


We woulda figured it out - just the Russians took them first, so we matched, we got the better end, so we happened to get there first.
 
2012-07-30 06:48:02 PM  
for shame, biatches

2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-07-30 06:48:23 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.



I only squeaked by with a C+ in pre-algebra and failed algebra my first time around. I simply did not understand how the teacher was explaining the math. Things got better in college, but I still struggle at any sort of general mathematics.

I'm now a senior engineer at a, in my opinion, very nice company.

People who don't understand math can still become successful. I feel mainly because we make up for it in other areas. I taught myself different ways of critical thinking and "taking the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions" as you put it. I actually have a huge advantage in my field because I can explain processes in ways that both groups can "natively" understand.

Ironically enough, my mother is currently a teacher and has a math degree. We always butted heads because she could never understand how I didn't understand the math being shown to me.
 
2012-07-30 06:48:47 PM  

saintstryfe: So please, don't step. We've been here, we ain't going no where. As long as there is data, as long as it has to be sorted, portioned and doled out, as long as there's students who need to know facts, and business reports to be written, while there's paper that needs to be preserved and digital files that need to be kept, we are going no where. We're Librarians.


I can't be the only one who imagined you standing up in front of a waving flag for this last part, hand on heart, staring off into the distance.... the music building as your fellows appear behind you.
 
2012-07-30 06:49:01 PM  
what no one has mentioned is that the author of this article is probably in a pissing match with his universities math department

also if you have a good teacher and are receptive you can learn almost anything be it writing or math

just because you are good at something doesn't mean you can teach it
 
2012-07-30 06:50:37 PM  
The problem is that we treat education like several things it's not, and no one wants to have an honest conversation about them.

1. Education is not the great equalizer. We waste inordinate amounts of money trying to get everyone the same education, as if the only reason that kids can't all be the next Einstein or the next Mark Twain is that we're just not trying hard enough. Bullshiat. Some people lack the brainpower to aspire to the intellectual or professional class. Some kids don't care to learn, and some are so farked up by poverty, drugs and abuse that they are lost. 50 years ago we would have shaken our head, washed our hands of it, and hoped that the ones that couldn't make it to college would find a useful trade or at least not end up a burden on the system. Now EVERYONE has to go to college. And so we try to teach everyone algebra. Well, guess what? Some of those kids are going to end up as assistant manager at the Kroger down the street, and they don't need trigonometry or calculus to tally out the cash registers at the end of the night. And it's only made worse by (sorry to say this) Affirmative Action. We can't have too many poor black kids failing, so we rig the grading system and teach the test and automatically pass kids to grades and to subjects for which they're not prepared.

2. Education is not a day-care. I understand that times are different and that most mothers have to work at least part time. That's just reality, I guess. But back in the day when most middle-class families had a stay-at-home mom, you had someone to tutor the kids and to teach them basic life lessons. Take the stay-at-home mom out of the equation, and is it any wonder that our schools are full of struggling students and troubled kids? We've tried to shift the responsibility to raise children to teachers, who are doing the best they can just to teach the kids enough so that they pass the No Child Left Behind tests.

3. Education is not a trade school. If you want to run a trade school, run a trade school. That's what Germany does after age 12 or so and they're getting along just fine. College prep and college for the kids who want/are prepared for it, trade school and apprenticeships for the kids that are more inclined to work with their hands. High schools and colleges shouldn't have to have official academic programs and majors for medical billing specialists or communications hacks or marketing. If you've got a good, well rounded education, you can figure those things out on the job.
 
2012-07-30 06:50:49 PM  
This is simply what liberals do when they control the license dept in a city. They make it obscenely difficult to enter a given marketplace. Be it excessive regulations such as cutting hair, or simply by limiting the number of permits, they make it easier for the existing businesses to make a profit. Payola back to the City council.

All this suggests is by dumbing down the future employee pool, there will be fewer competing lions for the lioness (a consumer).
 
2012-07-30 06:51:55 PM  

downstairs: wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?

I get your point, but my point would be (from my experience in high school in the 1990s) is that most everything is taught much more rote than practical real-world situations. Yeah, you need some rote learning (2x - 4 = -3... solve for x)... but it would be better to move on to some sample real world situations.

As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

All in all I just remember never having real-world situations taught to me in high school.


I still can't figure out how accrued interest works and unless I take a finance class, will probably have to rely on plug in conversions on my computer to figure out the current pay-off before I make early final payments on my financed debt.

If only highschool could give you real world tools instead of having to pay for a college level course to balance your checkbook. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed introductory courses in finance back in HS had they been available- and I don't even like math.
 
2012-07-30 06:54:43 PM  
It isn't that we are teaching too much math. It is that we are failing to teach it properly. Teaching to the test (so that kids pass the state tests) is not beneficial to anyone. People educated under this system lack the ability to use critical thinking, logic, analysis or evaluation techniques.
 
2012-07-30 06:56:37 PM  

Mad Tea Party: How on Earth do you plan on teaching stats to kids who can't do algebra?


As I've stated above, you need basic algebra to get out of second grade, for f*ck's sake. We and the author) are talking about is mastery of algebra.

You can teach basic stats without advanced algebra. You can also use stats to demystify, illustrate the application of, and tantalize kids into learning advanced algebra.
 
2012-07-30 06:57:05 PM  

Sticky Hands: saintstryfe: So please, don't step. We've been here, we ain't going no where. As long as there is data, as long as it has to be sorted, portioned and doled out, as long as there's students who need to know facts, and business reports to be written, while there's paper that needs to be preserved and digital files that need to be kept, we are going no where. We're Librarians.

I can't be the only one who imagined you standing up in front of a waving flag for this last part, hand on heart, staring off into the distance.... the music building as your fellows appear behind you.


You shoulda seen my first draft (yes, I draft my Fark posts, at least when I think they're important).

I was invoking the ancient librarians of Egypt and Rome, the monks of the middle ages... but I thought it was too much. Pull that back for the response, if needed.

This is entirely from being in a family of a professional wrestler.
 
2012-07-30 06:57:45 PM  

Russky: red5ish: Russky: That's exactly the problem isn't it, there is no demand for 'fine arts' degrees but people keep taking it instead of a career where there is demand like the sciences. Everyone wants to be a farking movie star i guess.

No, that's not the problem. You are ignoring the problem, which is supply and demand. If everybody studied engineering there would soon be no demand for engineers and other fields would be in demand. This is basic economics.

I'm not ignoring it at all, the point being there is a higher demand right now for scientific degrees but people aren't taking those. Obviously if everyone studied engineering there wouldn't be as much of a demand and if I stopped breathing I'd die, but both these points are well......obvious.


I'm glad you think it's obvious. I think it's obvious. I also think that it is sometimes necessary to state the obvious to make a point.
Not everybody's minds work the same way. There are people who are completely unsuited to become STEM majors but who have valid and valuable skills and abilities. If STEM graduates are in high demand then that's good news for them, but if a student is at heart a graphic artist you will only make him miserable trying to make him into an engineer (and probably not a very good engineer at that).
 
2012-07-30 06:59:40 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I'd agree with you on everything but "Now EVERYONE has to go to college."

No, there are many high school dropouts who continue to bring my food when I go out and others entertain me in other ways.

And the percentage of high school dropouts is increasing! Wow, if you can't get through today's easy public education, I'm surprised you can remember to breathe or walk.
 
2012-07-30 07:01:26 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat: Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:
...

You said something fundamentally stupid, so I objectified you as someone who would put a fundamentally stupid answer on a math test... possibly because you are 'living the dream' of having people who don't understand math teach it to you.

But this objection that it doesn't really apply to you is moot because (as earlier stated) I don't really care about you or want to know that you are an AP Political Science major *.

* Or something

Here's some more

[edge.ebaumsworld.com image 400x216]


Huh. Those are pretty clever, actually.

Based on your profile, I was expecting some sort of pointed sexist attack I wasn't seeing. Now I'm just disappointed, because you are actually just not very good at this. Don't worry, practice makes perfect!
 
2012-07-30 07:02:11 PM  

sigdiamond2000: I told that teacher lady the only numbers I need to know are U, S and A.


This is funny, and it will be hilarious over a bowl of maggotty rice in the Chinese labour camp...sorry, orientation course, in the future.
 
2012-07-30 07:08:29 PM  

Gyrfalcon: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.


Wow. That's just, well, wrong.

Of course, the ability to use math correctly is necessary in any scientific field. However, when scientists get stuck in the box, they just keep repeating mistakes without seeing the possibilities in front of them. The ability to think outside the box is where the major innovations come from. We have to be able to see outside of what is expected, to see what is actually happening.
 
2012-07-30 07:11:12 PM  
I agree wholeheartedly. If it is too hard to do, just don't do it. Those are the values that America was built on. Right?

What a crock of shiat. The purpose of high school math isn't to torture the unintelligent, or disinclined, but to teach reasoning and logic.
 
2012-07-30 07:12:03 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.


My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.
 
2012-07-30 07:14:31 PM  

Valiente: sigdiamond2000: I told that teacher lady the only numbers I need to know are U, S and A.

This is funny, and it will be hilarious over a bowl of maggotty rice in the Chinese labour camp...sorry, orientation course, in the future.



Emphasis on the ORIENT, am I right?!
 
2012-07-30 07:14:41 PM  
It's interesting how everyone is jumping on the pro-math bandwagon, but then a large percentage of Farkers are engineers, software developers and other mathematical people.

The most basic algebra is not very difficult to learn and is usually introduced before high school, so I have no issue with it being part of a curriculum. What I think is not necessary is forcing students to continue taking math throughout high school. Not every person has a mathematical brain, yet will be strong or even gifted in some other useful area (languages, arts and so on).

I firmly believe that the first year of high school should be used to identify a student's strengths and to help them focus towards strengthening and developing them. If they want to study unrelated things that's fine, but they should not feel obligated to do so. Of course there are a minimum number of credits required, so a student could not simply go ahead and take five classes a year, but a bit more lee-way with decision making would be excellent.

I have read many arguments that mathematics teaches problem solving skills and the ability "to think," and that anyone who does not study it is essentially a waste of life. The outrageous arrogance of such comments aside, it is necessary to point out the facts that math class tends not to focus on memorization rather than problem solving (all teachers I had responded to requests to explain an equation with "just memorize it"), and that problem solving and deductive reasoning can very effectively be taught via the learning of a language, the study of history, artistic development or any number of other educational avenues.

The vast majority of people in the United States, Canada and other Western countries do not need higher-level math to function. Paper-pushing, customer service and labour jobs (the vast, VAST majority of all existing jobs) simply do not require it. What *is* needed is a work ethic and at least a basic level of social functioning. We have sufficient mathematically-skilled people for the jobs that require it (in fact, I have many engineer friends who find it difficult to find available work). It's nice to reach higher levels of employment, but we need people to do the aforementioned jobs. In fact, the highest-paying jobs require social skills and creativity above almost anything else.
 
2012-07-30 07:15:22 PM  

OgreMagi: buzzcut73: I -really- hated being shown something, understanding it, and being told I needed to do it 50 more times every night.

I hate that, too. I got in trouble in middle school because I wasn't doing the homework. I wasn't doing the homework because I didn't like to waste my time on something I had already mastered. My dad had a discussion with them. They switched me to a more advance curriculum, except they didn't have anyone who could teach us the work and there was only three of us, so they couldn't justify hiring another math teacher.

/not Asian


ontherecordwithben.areavoices.com

Now, write it out a hundred times.
And if it's not done by sunrise... I'll cut your balls off.
 
2012-07-30 07:15:28 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms.


^^^ This.

If you're able to reason logically, then there's no reason to resort to algorithms to do agebra. Algebra is logical, and it makes perfect sense to anyone who can think logically.
 
2012-07-30 07:15:40 PM  
In your everyday life you'll use:

-Addition/subtraction/multiplication/division (mostly bills)
-Geometry (not often, but enough)
-Basic chemistry (mostly cleaning related)
-Reading (directions)
-Writing/Typing

In your life as a citizen you will hopefully use:

-History (so you remember enough not to vote for things that didn't work the first time)
-Stats (so you can interpret data for yourself.)
-Comprehensive reading (so you can understand if a study or article has a logical flaw.)

Yes, you can get away with knowing the bare minimum and still living your day to day life....but politicians, businesses and other such folks who know more will be able to run your environment into the ground without you realizing it.
 
2012-07-30 07:15:58 PM  
I use algebra and geometry every day and I am a freaking artist! The author is full of stupid. What we teach too much of is feel goody self esteem crap.
 
2012-07-30 07:15:58 PM  

umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.


Nah, let's be honest, it is because Algebra was invented by - well you know -- the terrorists!
 
2012-07-30 07:16:27 PM  

umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.


Not really. For me, it isn't about "feeling good" about an answer, it's about the difficulties in comparing one way of structuring things vs. another. Please don't drag that "everyone's a winner" crap into this. It doesn't apply.
 
2012-07-30 07:18:29 PM  

Graffito: Kimothy: Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things.

My brother cannot understand the different between growth at a slower rate and shrinking. This impacts his ability to understand all manner of social and economic issues. Even if you don't solve trig and calculus problems everyday, mastering those concepts allows you to better understand the world around you.


It's a constant problem in climate policies. Too many people think that slowing growth in greenhouse gas emissions = taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

The mind boggles.
 
2012-07-30 07:19:10 PM  
When it comes to math, people often make the mistake of thinking about education in terms of "How many of these kids will actually need this?" What such a question entirely misses is that failing to teach a kid something as scientifically fundamental as algebra, would close off entire career avenues to her or him.

And kids are not good deciders of what they're going to do years down the line (hell, many kids think shooting to be a sports star or to make it in music with no backup plan is a good career path, rather than the one-in-a-hundred-thousand shot it is), so you cannot just leave it up to them to decide whether they want to study hard at a particular subject that could be critical to them.

In a world where more and more, the good jobs rely on applying your brains, it would be criminal to abdicate responsibility to teach something as fundamental as algebra.

We're not even talking about calculus! It's farking algebra! Without learning that kind of basic skill of mental abstraction, good luck at ever being a scientist, engineer, or do any sort of serious programming! And this isn't the sort of stuff that they'll have time to pick up later (nor even the ability to learn as well, later).

Will all of them need it? NO. But if you don't make it mandatory, a lot of kids who don't even know yet that they'll need it to reach they're full potential won't learn it.
 
2012-07-30 07:20:20 PM  

Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

At a certain point you need PhDs and PostDocs teaching concepts but maybe not to anyone lower than a Masters. There's a reason we have an entire curriculum devoted to Elementary Ed.


Yes, exactly.

I mean, I loved my math theory classes and the beauty and simplicity of mathematics as a system takes my breath away. The strange and often unexpected patterns observed within mathematics tell us quite a bit about the world.

But the people who love to study mathematics aren't always the right people to be teaching kids what they need to know to balance their budgets, calculate gas mileage, create an accurate floor plan, or dilute solutions.
 
2012-07-30 07:21:29 PM  

EngineerBoy: The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.



^^ All of this agrees with my experience with the many science and math education majors I took classes with in college. No wonder kids are getting poor math educations; their teachers can barely do math at all, much less understand it.
 
2012-07-30 07:22:13 PM  

ElLoco: That sounds a lot like the last time I tried to calculate the precise value of infinity using a scratch pad, a tape measure and the end off of a serial cable.. and three days later discovered that there were two tabs stuck together, apparently.


I used a copper mobius strip plugged into an electrified tinfoil brain wave neutralizer. The results were surprising, for both me and the cat.
 
2012-07-30 07:22:13 PM  

HellRaisingHoosier: rumpelstiltskin: John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


I only squeaked by with a C+ in pre-algebra and failed algebra my first time around. I simply did not understand how the teacher was explaining the math. Things got better in college, but I still struggle at any sort of general mathematics.

I'm now a senior engineer at a, in my opinion, very nice company.

People who don't understand math can still become successful. I feel mainly because we make up for it in other areas. I taught myself different ways of critical thinking and "taking the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions" as you put it. I actually have a huge advantage in my field because I can explain processes in ways that both groups can "natively" understand.

Ironically enough, my mother is currently a teacher and has a math degree. We always butted heads because she could never understand how I didn't understand the math being shown to me.


Note to self: don't send kids to Indiana U for an engineering degree.
 
2012-07-30 07:23:34 PM  

Babwa Wawa: You can't teach stats without a basic understanding of algebra. But you can teach basic stats to someone without a complete mastery of algebra. You can also use statistics to drive understanding of algebra.


I'm all for an application-driven approach to teaching math. My high school physics teacher lamented that his course came before calculus in the usual sequence, so he couldn't do some of the really cool stuff. I told him that if it was any consolation, a semester of physics made the calculus concepts make more sense.
 
2012-07-30 07:24:30 PM  
Certification programs for veterinary technicians require algebra, although none of the graduates I've met have ever used it in diagnosing or treating their patients.

images.blahpers.com

Let m be the mass of the dachshund you're treating.
Let reff be the volume of medicine per kilogram of dachshund required to effectively treat its ailment.
Let rmdk be the volume of medicine per kilogram of dachshund that would cause the patient's brain to explode.

Guess what basic, every-moron-should-know-it skill the vet can use to solve this problem? Hint: It isn't "oh, this much looks about right".
 
2012-07-30 07:24:31 PM  

andrewagill: I don't understand how you could teach stats without algebra, so here's a picture of a book that teaches The Calculus without limits:


love it.
 
2012-07-30 07:25:58 PM  
"What of the claim that mathematics sharpens our minds and makes us more intellectually adept as individuals and a citizen body? It's true that mathematics requires mental exertion. But there's no evidence that being able to prove (x² + y²)² = (x² - y²)² + (2xy)² leads to more credible political opinions or social analysis."

Author clearly does not know what actual mathematics is. The author was taught mathematics improperly and thinks math consists of just "solving for x" in various ways according to the formulas/algorithms on their cheat sheet. If you're completely ignorant about a topic then your opinion on whether or not it should be taught is pretty much worthless.

Mathematics has allowed me to learn physics/comp sci incredibly efficiently and quickly because I was already used to thinking abstractly and logically. Math is a little more than multiplying polynomials, if you're not a complete idiot. It's about thinking critically and analyzing situations in creative and complex ways. This may actually lead to "more credible political opinions or social analysis."
 
2012-07-30 07:26:54 PM  

Gyrfalcon: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

Math doesn't have "creative" answers, dear. Math is. You can be as "creative" as you want, but 2+2 must ALWAYS equal 4. And in an equation where 2 + x = 4, solve for x, the answer better not be, "Well, if you consider that 2 is a relative number, depending on whether you're talking about two people having sex and one of their partners is in the closet spying on them, it could really be three, so my answer is three."

The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.


"Hey guys, what if light can be thought of as a wave?"
"Haha, good one Huygens, everyone knows it's a particle. Now get back to work."
 
jvl
2012-07-30 07:26:59 PM  

EvilEgg: Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?


My life would have been incalculably changed had I not read Red Badge of Courage in which I learned all about peeing oneself when scared. Were it not for the Great Gatsby, I might have learned why one uses a large glass for a small amount of wine in some less reputable and rigorous setting.
 
2012-07-30 07:28:11 PM  

wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


No matter how many times this gets repeated, it isn't enough.
 
2012-07-30 07:30:00 PM  
Wrong.
 
2012-07-30 07:30:43 PM  

buckler: Dafatone: I taught part-time (homework center help) at a small college where the students were by and large unimpressive.

The ones who needed the most help were in what I guess was basic algebra. Fractions with variables, stuff like that.

It's really, really hard to teach factoring to kids who have trouble grasping negative numbers. I'm still stumped at how to explain it, since to me it's been an intuitive / guess and check sorta thing.

I always found language to be interpretive, but math to be incomprehensible. The "one right way, one right answer" approach just never clicked with me. I always wanted to ask "but why is that the case?", and found "because it's a fundamental property of our universe," to be unsatisfying as an answer. I'm not saying that isn't the case, but the way in which my brain approaches problems just doesn't seem to mesh with it, for some reason.


Then you suck at following instructions?

That's what math can be reduced to. Your ability to follow instructions. Being able to visually recognize certain symbols and knowing what instructions to follow when you see them.

Now understanding the full meanings of those symbols, why they work the way they do, what you're really doing when you manipulate them, and how to use that understanding to solve actual questions is where the real learning comes in (and can be pretty challenging depending on the mathematical discipline), but at its basic level, you're just following instructions.

You can almost certainly do 1 + 1, you know what instructions to follow, so really when you see 7x - 7 = 42 all you are really doing is knowing how to recognize what to do when you see those symbols, what instructions to follow.
 
2012-07-30 07:31:27 PM  

ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.

"Hey guys, what if light can be thought of as a wave?"
"Haha, good one Huygens, everyone knows it's a particle. Now get back to work."


Thank you so much for that.
 
2012-07-30 07:32:04 PM  
Hogwash, and dangerous hogwash at that.

You Farkers got any idea what they are learning in India, China, Pakitan, Bangla--Desh and Indonesia?
 
2012-07-30 07:33:34 PM  

olddinosaur: Hogwash, and dangerous hogwash at that.

You Farkers got any idea what they are learning in India, China, Pakitan, Bangla--Desh and Indonesia?


Dashes deceive you, friend, dedash, please.

Thank you.
 
2012-07-30 07:34:06 PM  

Kimothy: I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.


STATS!!!

I was lucky enough to have awesome math and stats in my magnet public school program but gosh... I tutored and teaching to the test is awful. The main thing about math is even if you can't use it everyday the problem solving - evaluating what you need to do, what tools you have and how to apply them - that's so damn important ...

But stats especially. Learning what they really MEAN... I had to help so many liberal science folks who thought they'd never need to use it then were failing stats 101 because they only checked out the book on reserve and figured they'd memorize. Memorizing is easy to do and teach. Applying is harder and more important, as my many open book engin exams would attest.
 
2012-07-30 07:34:17 PM  

Kimothy: Explodo: Kimothy: I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.

I'll bet you use algebra more than you think. Any time you see a package of 10 somethings for y dollars you might think about how each one of those things costs y/10. That's algebra, Bud.

No, that's division. A basic math skill, generally taught by fourth grade or so.


What are your thoughts on English?

Really though, you're completely right: Algebra is a basic math skill that should be vaguely understood by fourth grade or so. Anything that uses a variable is algebra. You know those little kid homework problems that say "5 + *box* = 6; fill in the box?" Yeah, that's algebra at it's barest roots.
 
2012-07-30 07:34:34 PM  

umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.


Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills > math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.
 
2012-07-30 07:35:38 PM  

buckler: umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Not really. For me, it isn't about "feeling good" about an answer, it's about the difficulties in comparing one way of structuring things vs. another. Please don't drag that "everyone's a winner" crap into this. It doesn't apply.


Where the hell did you get "everyone's a winner" from either post? You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math. That pisses people off when they get away with it everywhere else.
 
2012-07-30 07:37:15 PM  
The problem with American schools it that we have turned them into powerless babysitters.
 
2012-07-30 07:38:45 PM  

slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills > math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.


I personally rank Cultural Literacy much higher. It drives me crazy when I make a common reference and the younger people who work around me look at me stupid.

I grant, I'm an MSTie, I grew up with the concept of esoteric references. But if I say "My father my father why hath you forsaken me?" in reference to my boss not being around when I need his mostly useless butt, I'd prefer people understand where its from!
 
2012-07-30 07:38:54 PM  
You don't even need algebra to balance a budget, but somehow the United States is not able to do so.

Why don't they teach math to politicians? And why do you (United States voters who keep voting for the two main parties) keep voting for these morons?
 
2012-07-30 07:39:24 PM  

ProfessorOhki: Kimothy: Explodo: Kimothy: I think it's more a problem of not knowing how to teach math, or teaching it in a way that's supposed to help students pass the four or five standardized tests a year rather than really understanding mathematical concepts. Reduce the emphasis on testing and emphasize actual knowledge, application, and critical thinking and you'll see students improve.

That said, I don't think I use much math beyond the stuff you learn in elementary school, except maybe some geometry now and then, and I think that's probably a pretty typical thing. Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives. Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things. The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.

I'll bet you use algebra more than you think. Any time you see a package of 10 somethings for y dollars you might think about how each one of those things costs y/10. That's algebra, Bud.

No, that's division. A basic math skill, generally taught by fourth grade or so.

What are your thoughts on English?

Really though, you're completely right: Algebra is a basic math skill that should be vaguely understood by fourth grade or so. Anything that uses a variable is algebra. You know those little kid homework problems that say "5 + *box* = 6; fill in the box?" Yeah, that's algebra at it's barest roots.


And an apostrophe error too?

;)
 
2012-07-30 07:40:35 PM  

cuzsis: In your everyday life you'll use:

-Addition/subtraction/multiplication/division (mostly bills)
-Geometry (not often, but enough)
-Basic chemistry (mostly cleaning related)
-Reading (directions)
-Writing/Typing

In your life as a citizen you will hopefully use:

-History (so you remember enough not to vote for things that didn't work the first time)
-Stats (so you can interpret data for yourself.)
-Comprehensive reading (so you can understand if a study or article has a logical flaw.)

Yes, you can get away with knowing the bare minimum and still living your day to day life....but politicians, businesses and other such folks who know more will be able to run your environment into the ground without you realizing it.



Politicians, businesspeople and other such folks dominate because of their strong social abilities: networking, ass-kissing, cunning and so forth. Business acumen and a sense of the market/political flow come next. Logical, math-minded people make poor politicians and executives because they are too rigid in their thinking. Not always, but often enough for it to be a rule.
 
2012-07-30 07:42:54 PM  

slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills > math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.


If we are talking about cutting things that don't get used by most people in the real world, why aren't we talking about art? Or music? Hint: It's because "not using it in the real world" isn't the reason you morons want to get rid of it.
 
2012-07-30 07:43:32 PM  
A TYPICAL American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I've found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn't.

Poor foundational skills and a focus on algorithm rather than reasoning and rationale are the causes of this ordeal. This is not a case of high school or college students being incapable of understanding and working with algebra but of the current set of high school and college students being failed by previous years. By high school, students begin to work well with the abstract, but previous years preparing for manipulation of numbers in the abstract must be via concrete methods to provide students the tools necessary.

Develop rather than attempt to teach numeracy. Avoid using algorithms as the content. All mathematics education prior to high school should begin with manipulatives, and all mathematics education should begin based in problem-solving. The issue with mathematics is the subject is easy to fall to the abstract; imagine teaching music without giving students an instrument or reading without giving students a book.

Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent.
I agree with the intent but disagree with the focus. Mathematics education is not a hindrance to discovering and developing talents. Mathematics is an important ability itself, and mathematical/logical reasoning is useful in visual fields. Absolute focus on two subjects to the detriment of all others, especially taught poorly for a great many years, does prevent us, though.
 
2012-07-30 07:43:44 PM  
Don't care; my kid is half Indian, so he already knows math.

In all seriousness, all our CFD guys are Chinese or Indian. Our company wants to hire Americans in the worst way, but I only see foreign resumes for all the tech positions. More math, a better approach to teaching, and get rid of the notion that higher learning is for elitists. STEM PhD programs should be filled with Americans, not foreigners, but that's another story.
 
2012-07-30 07:44:03 PM  
Instead of dumbing dowm academics to help students pass, we should recognize that some kids need a different kind of education, e.g. vo-tech instead of high school. If you cant make a passing grade in algebra, you would have to be truly exceptional in other ways to merit a college-level education.
 
2012-07-30 07:46:53 PM  
Personally I think schools should always teach one math level above what they want the kids to learn (when possible). Want to teach a kid Algebra? Spend the first 3/4ths of the year teaching him Trig. Even if he only learns 1/4 of the trig stuff when you step back to Algebra at the end of the year he will tear through it in no time because he will already understand the underlying concepts, having been using them for the last few months without realizing it. It sounds bass-ackwards, but it really would work with most kids.
 
2012-07-30 07:50:00 PM  

"Just think of how stupid the average median person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

--George Carlin


FTF George.
 
2012-07-30 07:50:10 PM  

Animatronik: Instead of dumbing dowm academics to help students pass, we should recognize that some kids need a different kind of education, e.g. vo-tech instead of high school. If you cant make a passing grade in algebra, you would have to be truly exceptional in other ways to merit a college-level education.


Yes!

I'm a math-wizard, and can cruise by just doing contracting and what-not. But I can't fix my own plumbing or car. Grr.

Another vo-tech I know guy can fix my plumbing or car, and we get paid the same amount per hour. And it is an insane rate. Granted he smells up my house, but that goes away after a day or so.

Problem solved!
 
2012-07-30 07:51:08 PM  

umad: buckler: umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Not really. For me, it isn't about "feeling good" about an answer, it's about the difficulties in comparing one way of structuring things vs. another. Please don't drag that "everyone's a winner" crap into this. It doesn't apply.

Where the hell did you get "everyone's a winner" from either post? You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math. That pisses people off when they get away with it everywhere else.


From your agreement with the post that you were responding to. Look, I know that math is an objective field. I understand that. I was expressing my amusement with the fact that, when approached from another perspective, the answers to those problems are all correct. Like I said, it's a clash of disciplines that gives sometimes surprising results. When you use words to express a problem, it puts it into the purview of language, which may come up with interesting responses to what would otherwise be a purely mathematical problem. If you wrote an equation on a board, putting X's in certain spaces, and asking for students to solve for X, English would have no way to touch it. By using words, it falls squarely into the domain of English as much as it does math, so I find the creative answers to be amusing. That's all.
 
2012-07-30 07:51:15 PM  

red5ish: How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?


how does ANYONE who took calculus use it? other than teachers and engineers?
Hell I have minor it math ... whatever ...

being able to think logically and solve problems? that was what I learned and practiced in school
 
2012-07-30 07:52:25 PM  

buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.



Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics
 
2012-07-30 07:52:59 PM  
2 + 2 = 4
 
2012-07-30 07:58:24 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: Then you suck at following instructions?

That's what math can be reduced to. Your ability to follow instructions. Being able to visually recognize certain symbols and knowing what instructions to follow when you see them.


That's why math is not taught properly.

People with an innate grasp of math teach it. That's why everyone thinks it's hard. If you start fencing against Zorro, Dartanian, and Ingio Montoya and they don't take it easy on you, you're gonna think OMFG FENCING IS IMPOSSIBLE. That's what math class does. It's a bunch of people who automatically get it because of a natural propensity for the skill with years of experience yelling at you for not being born into an artificial way of thinking.

Math class cuts all the important and real life parts of math out and presents it in the least useful, most boring, and an entirely haughty way. And they we act surprised when the only people who can do math really well are boring and haughty and not very practical. You get what you teach.

Like I said in the redlit thread: we shouldn't stop teaching math, we should stop teaching math like we do. Instead of hard rules for making integers have sex for an hour a day, teach real world examples and introduce practical applications from day one. Don't just say "You can use the area of a square to measure your floor." make all the problems "You must carpet this house. Here is the price per square foot per carpet. You have $2000. Which carpet can you afford?"

Witthout that real world anchor right away, most people will never get it.
 
2012-07-30 07:58:44 PM  

Indubitably: And an apostrophe error too?

;)

Pfft, so says the guy who starts a sentence fragment with a conjunction!

FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.

Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics


Oh please, you guys can't even determine what's IN the box without collapsing the waveform.
 
2012-07-30 07:59:04 PM  
as an engineer, i use y=mx+b once in a while.

and the bernouli equation
and mannings
 
2012-07-30 07:59:12 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: buckler: Dafatone: I taught part-time (homework center help) at a small college where the students were by and large unimpressive.

The ones who needed the most help were in what I guess was basic algebra. Fractions with variables, stuff like that.

It's really, really hard to teach factoring to kids who have trouble grasping negative numbers. I'm still stumped at how to explain it, since to me it's been an intuitive / guess and check sorta thing.

I always found language to be interpretive, but math to be incomprehensible. The "one right way, one right answer" approach just never clicked with me. I always wanted to ask "but why is that the case?", and found "because it's a fundamental property of our universe," to be unsatisfying as an answer. I'm not saying that isn't the case, but the way in which my brain approaches problems just doesn't seem to mesh with it, for some reason.

Then you suck at following instructions?

That's what math can be reduced to. Your ability to follow instructions. Being able to visually recognize certain symbols and knowing what instructions to follow when you see them.

Now understanding the full meanings of those symbols, why they work the way they do, what you're really doing when you manipulate them, and how to use that understanding to solve actual questions is where the real learning comes in (and can be pretty challenging depending on the mathematical discipline), but at its basic level, you're just following instructions.

You can almost certainly do 1 + 1, you know what instructions to follow, so really when you see 7x - 7 = 42 all you are really doing is knowing how to recognize what to do when you see those symbols, what instructions to follow.


Yes, I understand that, and I can certainly do the basic math that allows me to get by, but in my own experience, there comes a point when the instructions simply stop making sense to me. I'm less inclined to follow them as I am to ask why these rules exist in the first place; I always seem to fall back into an interpretive mode. At some point, the sheer number of these seemingly-arbitrary rules (though I know they aren't) simply overwhelms me. With English, I may have a dozen ways to express the same idea. In math, there is only one correct way; there's little to no room for interpretation, and that's where I get into trouble. I'm expected to memorize hundreds of different rules with absolute precision, and know when to apply them. I don't know why, but for me, I can do that with language, but not numbers.

It isn't a matter of not being able to follow instructions; it's that some rulesests are easier to facilitate than others. I can't really explain it. That's what I mean besides not looking down on people who have a firm grasp of English while being brilliant at math (thanks for the insult, by the way), because I suffer difficulties when approaching things from the opposite direction.
 
2012-07-30 08:00:19 PM  

slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills &math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.


You use algebra all the time. You just don't call it that because you don't write things out formally. Algebra as taught just takes all the stepwise arithemetic you do in your head and gives it expressive written form. Everytime you do something as simple as figuring out your portion of a meal out with friends, you are doing algebra. You just don't organize it systematically as they tried to teach you. That isn't just it's uselessness, norjustyour teachers failure. It's also a failure to recognize the tool or it's usefullness.
 
2012-07-30 08:01:41 PM  

InmanRoshi: rumpelstiltskin: No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.

This.

As someone in a STEM field, have I used "algebra" much in my career? No. Have I used deductive logic that was introduced to me at a young age through the vehicle of Algebra? Yes, hourly.


This is where i am stymied - i dont ever remember getting taught the deductive logic in any math class in high school or middle school. We were given a formula, shown the steps to solve and asked to repeat it. Ta da - dancing monkey...

I learned more deductive logic and practical application of math and formulas in my biology classes & chemistry classes than i ever did in any of my high school math classes.
 
2012-07-30 08:02:24 PM  
"That's what I mean *by*..." Even English sometimes has its pitfalls. Stupid multitasking...
 
2012-07-30 08:02:46 PM  
It is perfectly normal for people to value their personal achievements, such as making their way through the standard sequence of math courses, through hard work and perseverance. It is normal human behavior to be defensive and protective about personal achievements, even to the point (and we see it occurring repeatedly in this thread) of attacking anyone who questions the value (even for themselves) of that achievement.
 
2012-07-30 08:04:54 PM  

lockers: slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills &math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.

You use algebra all the time. You just don't call it that because you don't write things out formally. Algebra as taught just takes all the stepwise arithemetic you do in your head and gives it expressive written form. Everytime you do something as simple as figuring out your portion of a meal out with friends, you are doing algebra. You just don't organize it systematically as they tried to teach you. That isn't just it's uselessness, norjustyour teachers failure. It's also a failure to recognize the tool or it's usefullness.


I see that as akin to the idea that you're doing complex physics calculations in your mind every time you catch a baseball, though it may not be in the time-consuming, written notation you use in the classroom.
 
2012-07-30 08:07:22 PM  

ProfessorOhki: Indubitably: And an apostrophe error too?

;)
Pfft, so says the guy who starts a sentence fragment with a conjunction!

FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.

Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics

Oh please, you guys can't even determine what's IN the box without collapsing the waveform.


Um,

I've got creative license as a cyber-poet, you?

;)
 
2012-07-30 08:07:23 PM  

Babwa Wawa: common sense is an oxymoron: wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?

No matter how many times this gets repeated, it isn't enough.

No matter how many times it gets repeated, it doesn't become any more true.

Yes, you need mastery of algebra to master advanced probability and statistics.

Elementary probability and statistics requires - wait for it... An elementary understanding of algebra.

The question is whether the assistant manager at Kroger needs to master algebra, or whether it might be useful to have him know some algebra, as well as some basic stats.


Agreed. There is a difference between understanding how variables work and solving high-order polynomial equations. Unfortunately, TFA seems to advocate replacing algebra with some sort of (actually fairly reasonable in itself) consumer-based math for which at least basic algebra would be a prerequisite. And that oversimplification is what I was aiming at. It turned an otherwise reasonable suggestion into an I-failed-algebra rant.
 
2012-07-30 08:08:12 PM  

slayer199: However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I think one of the overlooked benefits of pre-calc and college algebra is the development of a certain type of critical thinking and logistical reasoning that accompanies the practice of pre-calc material.

Unfortunately, I don't think that said critical thinking and logistical reasoning that is crucial for pre-calc can be developed outside of it, per se, but it still comes in handy in other subject matter that isn't necessarily related to math.

It's a one-way transfer, so it seems.
 
2012-07-30 08:09:05 PM  

pushpinder: Christ, did a cow crap in here? Figures the article would come from a liberal arts major. Know what, take David Copperfield and shove it up your bung hole! If you can't learn a concept that is a few hundred years old, you're an idiot. Math, at its core, is about problem solving whether it is useful for you in life or not, it builds cognitive skills in looking at a problem, breaking it down and finding a solution. It trains the brain to solve problems. Painting happy trees every day will not help you tackle problems you might encounter in the workplace (though they will make your cubicle friendlier).


The author teaches political science. That's a school of belief that you can do anything you want and be successful, without regard to history or science, so long as you keep trying and throw enough money at the problem. Logical thinking would only get in the way.
 
2012-07-30 08:09:44 PM  
They should also teach dimensional analysis when teaching algebra, helps reinforce the need to keep units as well as a way to deduce the right way to solve word problems quickly.
 
2012-07-30 08:10:06 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?


48 oz.
 
2012-07-30 08:10:50 PM  
the butt hurt in that article was off the scale.

/somebody didn't pass college algebra the first time around
 
2012-07-30 08:11:21 PM  

slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills > math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.


We can tell you use no math is life by your posts in the politics threads regarding the economy.

It's great we have a population with strong opinions and a belief that they understand macroeconomics and that these people also admit that middle school math has them scratching their heads.
 
2012-07-30 08:11:53 PM  
I think it's all in how you teach a subject.

I (optimistically) believe that anyone can understand anything if whatever's being taught can be done so in a way that relates to something that the student already understands.

Now that I am studying mathematics for its own sake, I can offer one thing that would've helped me immensely as a youngster when it came to learning math.

All those stupid, pointless, boring "exercises?" I could not understand why I'd ever use quadratic equations in life as a youngster, and that's what I thought the exercises were for. What would've helped me out is if someone had told me that doing those exercises is a lot like practicing a musical instrument, or practicing using a shop tool. Doing mathematical exercises is all about getting used to the "feel" of a certain tool. Imagine using a chiseling tool for whittling on some wood. Each time you do that, your goal isn't to carve out David. It's to get used to how the tool feels in your hand, how the wood responds to different pressures and angles, etc. Over time, you can sort of mindlessly do it, much like driving a stick shift. You do it without even thinking about it. The point isn't getting good at calculus or trig and applying it later on to a specific thing, per se, it's all about becoming comfortable with using the various tools. Like a craftsman.

Mathematical exercises are the EXACT same thing in my mind: to get used to handing and wielding the tool effectively, not grinding mindlessly on some super-abstract idea that has zero appreciable impact on your life. It's not so much the ends as it is understanding the means and getting good with manipulating the tool itself. And of all the tools available to us on this planet, none is more pervasive or useful as mathematics.

I gently urge anyone out there who believes themselves (as I once was) to be "not a math person," to give the subject another chance. The hardest part about math is finding a learning resource that resonates with how you naturally learn things.
 
2012-07-30 08:13:05 PM  

buckler: umad: buckler: umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Not really. For me, it isn't about "feeling good" about an answer, it's about the difficulties in comparing one way of structuring things vs. another. Please don't drag that "everyone's a winner" crap into this. It doesn't apply.

Where the hell did you get "everyone's a winner" from either post? You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math. That pisses people off when they get away with it everywhere else.

From your agreement with the post that you were responding to. Look, I know that math is an objective field. I understand that. I was expressing my amusement with the fact that, when approached from another perspective, the answers to those problems are all correct. Like I said, it's a clash of disciplines that gives sometimes surprising results. When you use words to express a problem, it puts it into the purview of language, which may come up with interesting responses to what would otherwise be a purely mathematical problem. If you wrote an equation on a board, putting X's in certain spaces, and asking for students to solve for X, English would have no way to touch it. By using words, it falls squarely into the domain of English as much as it does math, so I find the creative answers to be amusing. That's all.


They are amusing. Amusing and wrong. That is the beauty with math. A problem can be approached from many perspectives, but there will still only be one correct answer.
 
2012-07-30 08:13:06 PM  

Brontes: dimensional analysis


DA is the most useful method of problem solving I've ever learned.
 
2012-07-30 08:13:57 PM  

PlatypusPuke: I think it's all in how you teach a subject.

I (optimistically) believe that anyone can understand anything if whatever's being taught can be done so in a way that relates to something that the student already understands.

Now that I am studying mathematics for its own sake, I can offer one thing that would've helped me immensely as a youngster when it came to learning math.

All those stupid, pointless, boring "exercises?" I could not understand why I'd ever use quadratic equations in life as a youngster, and that's what I thought the exercises were for. What would've helped me out is if someone had told me that doing those exercises is a lot like practicing a musical instrument, or practicing using a shop tool. Doing mathematical exercises is all about getting used to the "feel" of a certain tool. Imagine using a chiseling tool for whittling on some wood. Each time you do that, your goal isn't to carve out David. It's to get used to how the tool feels in your hand, how the wood responds to different pressures and angles, etc. Over time, you can sort of mindlessly do it, much like driving a stick shift. You do it without even thinking about it. The point isn't getting good at calculus or trig and applying it later on to a specific thing, per se, it's all about becoming comfortable with using the various tools. Like a craftsman.

Mathematical exercises are the EXACT same thing in my mind: to get used to handing and wielding the tool effectively, not grinding mindlessly on some super-abstract idea that has zero appreciable impact on your life. It's not so much the ends as it is understanding the means and getting good with manipulating the tool itself. And of all the tools available to us on this planet, none is more pervasive or useful as mathematics.

I gently urge anyone out there who believes themselves (as I once was) to be "not a math person," to give the subject another chance. The hardest part about math is finding a learning resource that reson ...


I really wish now that that had been the approach my teachers had used with me. It might very well have expanded my abilities and confidence in that field. Thanks for that post; it's honestly refreshing to see.
 
2012-07-30 08:15:10 PM  

Smackledorfer: It's great we have a population with strong opinions and a belief that they understand macroeconomics and that these people also admit that middle school math has them scratching their heads.


ZING!
 
2012-07-30 08:15:38 PM  

umad: They are amusing. Amusing and wrong. That is the beauty with math. A problem can be approached from many perspectives, but there will still only be one correct answer.


The beauty with language is that there are many correct answers, and that's the perspective from which these students approached the problems. As language problems, they are all correct.
 
2012-07-30 08:16:00 PM  

arentol: Personally I think schools should always teach one math level above what they want the kids to learn (when possible). Want to teach a kid Algebra? Spend the first 3/4ths of the year teaching him Trig. Even if he only learns 1/4 of the trig stuff when you step back to Algebra at the end of the year he will tear through it in no time because he will already understand the underlying concepts, having been using them for the last few months without realizing it. It sounds bass-ackwards, but it really would work with most kids.


You have the right idea, but you don't understand how it works.


Humans learn passively MUCH BETTER than they learn actively. If you sit down Terminal style and try to learn a foriegn language your head will start to spin and you'll eventually quit and nothing will really be accomplished. However, if you just go somewhere and use the language every single day and talk to people, even if you know next to nothing to start, suddenly you'll be fluent in a few short months.

Math is a skill, same as language. If you sit down and force a kid to try and learn how to fx all day, good farking luck. Put you put that same kid in Physics and place a pizza party on the line for some sort of contest with solid calculus being the means to an end, and suddenly little johnny will find he can do it better than a TI-89 calculator. And the best part is, that second way? It's painless.

That's why we should change math education from mandatory gulag to novel sport. In video games, you learn all kinds of tips and tricks and skills passively. After a few days on an FPS server, you learn tons of tactics and get a good feel for all the in game actions you can take. You never actually have to read up on any of that junk. Make math class a series of real world problems that are dependant on math as opposed to a bunch of crap floating in null space and you'll see marked improvement.

By forcing kids to do trig, you're making them focus on one thing while passively learning algebra. That's okay, but you're still alienating lots of people who will think they're stupid because they can't do the harder stuff and will just give up or slack off. Instead, do something they can accomplish easily but not without the math they need. Applied math first, theory second if at all.
 
2012-07-30 08:17:09 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


you show me an average persons need to know how to expand or factor a polynomial and I'll believe you need high school algebra. You have demonstrated the need for grade 5 algebra. That also includes "I have $20, and beef costs x and potatoes cost y and I like a meal to have a 1:2 ratio of these ingredients, how much can I buy?" , or "my tax rate is 5% on this next purchase, how much will my total bill be for the following shopping list?" Word problems are the classic introduction to algebra and are very applied, and rarely require more than grade 5 algebra.

I agree, everyone needs to have grade 5-6 algebra down cold.


with a wee bit more algebra I can give an intro to Stats class. Enough to understand politics and newspapers. I also need a smidgen more algebra to handle high school chemistry (titration formulas, pH, dilution, moles..). Physics can also be handled at the high school level with grade 7 or 8 algebra.


I'm also a bit tired of the logic that says without deep abstraction from algebra people are unable to reason. Most people I know can't handle any high school algebra I show them, but they are highly functioning adaptable professionals.

heck, gorillas have demonstrated the ability to disarm poacher traps and they can't master math better than 2nd graders.
 
2012-07-30 08:17:35 PM  

Testiclaw: Brontes: dimensional analysis

DA is the most useful method of problem solving I've ever learned.


Yet so skipped over in basic algebra it really blows the mind. It is amazing what a little logic and unit matching can do to a problem.
 
2012-07-30 08:19:43 PM  

buckler: lockers: slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills &math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.

You use algebra all the time. You just don't call it that because you don't write things out formally. Algebra as taught just takes all the stepwise arithemetic you do in your head and gives it expressive written form. Everytime you do something as simple as figuring out your portion of a meal out with friends, you are doing algebra. You just don't organize it systematically as they tried to teach you. That isn't just it's uselessness, norjustyour teachers failure. It's also a failure to recognize the tool or it's usefullness.

I see that as akin to the idea that you're doing complex physics calculations in your mind every time you catch a baseball, though it may not be in the time-consuming, written notation you use in the classroom.


I get where you're coming from, but that one is a little bit different because you're not consciously dealing with any computation because you're not consciously dealing with any numbers. Say I ask you "I need to take a cab, but don't have much cash. There's a $3 flag charge + $0.30/mi after that. How far can I get with $10?" You might go, "Take 10, subtract three, and divide by 0.30, it's simple arithmetic." Which is true, but they way in which you turned 3+0.3x=10 (which is how I phrased it) into "answer = (10-3)/0.3" is algebra even if it feels intuitive. Being able to rearrange the equation like that is something you can do because you've got a feel for how association and commutation work. For something like catching a ball, you don't have quite the same sort of dependence on defined "rules."

/What, no tip?
 
2012-07-30 08:20:44 PM  

ProfessorOhki: I get where you're coming from, but that one is a little bit different because you're not consciously dealing with any computation because you're not consciously dealing with any numbers. Say I ask you "I need to take a cab, but don't have much cash. There's a $3 flag charge + $0.30/mi after that. How far can I get with $10?" You might go, "Take 10, subtract three, and divide by 0.30, it's simple arithmetic." Which is true, but they way in which you turned 3+0.3x=10 (which is how I phrased it) into "answer = (10-3)/0.3" is algebra even if it feels intuitive. Being able to rearrange the equation like that is something you can do because you've got a feel for how association and commutation work. For something like catching a ball, you don't have quite the same sort of dependence on defined "rules."

/What, no tip?


Gotcha.
 
2012-07-30 08:21:01 PM  

DarwiOdrade: Math helps you function in the real world.


i50.tinypic.com">

Alll the math a Poli Sci grad needs.
 
2012-07-30 08:21:13 PM  

wingedkat:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.

I could not agree more. I teach remedial math at a university. It is the stuff that they should have gotten in High School but didn't. Most of my students hate math because someone made it a miserable experience for them. I majored in Zoology and I hated math when I was an undergrad. I joke with my students that people go into Biology because they don't like math. I only started to understand math when I started helping other people with it. Now I teach a class that students have fun in. They learn the math and I don't make them feel stupid. I usually say the correct math term and what it means every time. For example I will say "The denominator, the number on the bottom." I try to do this every time. They don't feel stupid for not remembering what a denominator is and it eventually sticks in their head.

I never ever blame my students for their lack of understanding in math. I blame their teachers. Almost every one of them can give me the name of the person who made them hate math. I tell my students that my class is not about math, but about problem solving, and it is. I don't want them to memorize formulas. I have had students who can rattle of a formula perfectly, but have no idea how to use it. I tell my students to look at the problems and figure out what they can do with it. If they can't multiply 7 and 8, I don't care. I tell them to just add stuff up to get the answer. I can't multiply 7 and 8. I tell them to look for patterns and develop tricks that always work. The sad thing is, students are so scared of doing things the wrong way that they are afraid to even try. I tell them that as long as they get the answer there is no wrong way (except cheating, that is wrong). I give them unlimited time to do their work so they don't freak out so much and shut down mentally. I have sat with a student for 5 hours doing a test. I don't accept blank answers and I will give partial credit for pretty much anything written in the answer space (aside from IDK). I gave them 5 points extra credit on the final if they could tell me who Henry Rollins is because we talked about him one day in class.

I am not an awesome teacher. I am a pretty crappy teacher if you go by the standards. I just understand the fear these students have and try to make things a little less stressful so they can focus on what I want them to learn instead of having to guess what it is I want.
 
2012-07-30 08:21:30 PM  

FizixJunkee: \getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics


super-cool!
 
2012-07-30 08:23:04 PM  

neenerist: DarwiOdrade: Math helps you function in the real world.

[i50.tinypic.com image 519x61]">

Alll the math a Poli Sci grad needs.


why does poli sci still have the word sci in it ??
 
2012-07-30 08:23:34 PM  
While I had trouble in high school, I did well in math in college, perhaps because I knew I had to do so in order to get the degree I had to pay for. I had a good math prof ( who was hot) and a very good physics prof who made sure we understood not just that a given equation would solve a specific situational problem, but also what each term in the equation represented and why it was there. Same in pharmacy school. We had a prof explain in one week in one class what the prof we had in the previous class spent all semester trying to teach.
 
2012-07-30 08:23:37 PM  

indylaw: 1. Education is not the great equalizer.


Well, it is in a way. You're coming into a policy argument that we've been having literally since the founding of the nation (it pops up in the federalist papers) of equal ability versus equal opportunity and the relationship between the two.

Public education is an equalizer in the "opportunity" sense. It doesn't automatically put you on par with the rich dude who can be privately tutored in everything, but it gives you the opportunity to make up the remaining gap through work, luck, and sheer awesomeness by making resources available to you.

And in the more general sense, it diversifies our upper economic brackets and helps keep us from slipping into a class system-- if there are people that worked their way up in there along with the folks that were born rich, and some people that got rich by getting lucky with property deals, we're not in any particular danger of being dominated thoroughly enough by any one group to end up with hereditary lordships, robber barons, or a technocracy. All of which would suck for the losers more than the current system.
 
2012-07-30 08:24:17 PM  

buckler: lockers: slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills &math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.

You use algebra all the time. You just don't call it that because you don't write things out formally. Algebra as taught just takes all the stepwise arithemetic you do in your head and gives it expressive written form. Everytime you do something as simple as figuring out your portion of a meal out with friends, you are doing algebra. You just don't organize it systematically as they tried to teach you. That isn't just it's uselessness, norjustyour teachers failure. It's also a failure to recognize the tool or it's usefullness.

I see that as akin to the idea that you're doing complex physics calculations in your mind every time you catch a baseball, though it may not be in the time-consuming, written notation you use in the classroom.


Of course, writting things out formally is often a waste of time. But you don't learn stepwise problem solving until you hit algebra. But you still need concepts from algebra to be successful in any kind of life where you don't depend on others. Modern financial life demands that of you, and depending on others for that requires a never ending string of luck to stop you from disaster. Yes, I am a software architect, so I do get paid professionally to do algebra. But that also makes me appreciate how often people do that informally.

You NEED the written notation, because it is the language the subject is taught. English doesn't have the formalism needed, which is why you do word problems. It teaches youhow tobridge the gap between english and algebra. Without that its like saying we should teach film theory in spanish. Or political science in german. Or if you want to really be pedantic, teaching philosphy in symbolic logic. The problem with that human language is ambigious. It's a poor tool for the job in the same way a hammer is a poor tool for a screwdriver.
 
2012-07-30 08:24:28 PM  
Is the New York Times necessary? Maybe is we cut out phony baloney "journalism" from the average consumer we will enhance the smart making.
 
2012-07-30 08:24:55 PM  

neenerist: DarwiOdrade: Math helps you function in the real world.

[i50.tinypic.com image 519x61]">

Alll the math a Poli Sci grad needs.


Needs to be updated :)

cache.gizmodo.com

/hot
//or iced
 
2012-07-30 08:25:59 PM  
Did anyone else start reading that article thinking the author was employing Socratic irony?
 
2012-07-30 08:26:11 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.

But why learn even the basics of the language of all creation when you could just pound out a degree in political science and get paid to expand stupid questions in the New York Times into a thousand word screed against basic competency, right?


This. To be fair, you've described most of the "opinion" pieces in the NY Times.

/At least the wine reporting is fair
 
2012-07-30 08:26:20 PM  

ProfessorOhki: buckler: lockers: slayer199: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Been there done that. You know how much algebra I use? None. The point I was making is that there are more useful math classes than college algebra and pre-calc. Language skills &math skills in the real world because if you can't communicate, how will anyone know about your wonderful engineering skills.

You use algebra all the time. You just don't call it that because you don't write things out formally. Algebra as taught just takes all the stepwise arithemetic you do in your head and gives it expressive written form. Everytime you do something as simple as figuring out your portion of a meal out with friends, you are doing algebra. You just don't organize it systematically as they tried to teach you. That isn't just it's uselessness, norjustyour teachers failure. It's also a failure to recognize the tool or it's usefullness.

I see that as akin to the idea that you're doing complex physics calculations in your mind every time you catch a baseball, though it may not be in the time-consuming, written notation you use in the classroom.

I get where you're coming from, but that one is a little bit different because you're not consciously dealing with any computation because you're not consciously dealing with any numbers. Say I ask you "I need to take a cab, but don't have much cash. There's a $3 flag charge + $0.30/mi after that. How far can I get with $10?" You might go, "Take 10, subtract three, and divide by 0.30, it's simple arithmetic." Which is true, but they way in which you turned 3+0.3x=10 (which is how I phrased it) into "answer = (10-3)/0.3" is algebra even if it feels intuitive. Being able to rearrange the equation like that is something you can do because you've got a feel for how association and commutation work. For something like catching a ball, you don't ...


Did you 'consciously' write "consciously" twice in your opening volley? Consciously?

I sense obfuscation for the sake of real consciousness, and I warn you sir, mind matters, and mind remembers everything, aka "an elephant memory"...

Tread consciously...

Ellipsis cubed.
 
2012-07-30 08:26:25 PM  
CSS:

No Child Left Behind has really put a stress on this issue. They pass kids who can't do simple math, and then expect them to do algebra later on. I was in a small school, and I did fine in algebra (geometry I was meh at, but I was really good at stats). I also did pretty well in college algebra, if I remember correctly. I went to elementary school well before NCLB. I remember in 3rd grade my teacher telling the class "You're going to learn multiplication this year, and if you don't know your times tables from 0 to 12 by the end of the year, you're not going to 4th grade". THAT is a motivator when you're 8 or 9!

A friend of mine was in elementary school when NCLB passed; he had above average reading comprehension and ability, but his math talents where non-existent, because he didn't understand basic concepts easily when it came to math. He kept getting into higher grades because he could read above his grade level and he wrote pretty well. His parents didn't realize why he was doing so poorly in 5th grade math until we did some tests at home and figured out he could barely add or subtract (it took him three tries to answer me correctly when I asked him "What is 7 plus 3?", and it was really obvious he was embarrassed about it). He had to have a math tutor from 5th grade until he graduated high school because he was so far behind everybody else.

I can see where the author has some valid points, but honestly? The whole article sounds like whining and "I hated algebra, and since so many people are failing it now, they must hate it too". Also, the suggested replacement is stupid; how about, if you have to replace algebra, you do a school-year-long class and teach kids how to really work a budget and keep themselves from falling into hellacious debt before they're 25? You don't even want to know the horror stories I've heard from undergrads around here about how much debt they've racked up on credit cards over stupid shiat, just because they didn't understand how to live within a budget!

/Don't spend more than you make
//Tuck a bit away for emergencies
///The fancy stuff you want will still be there when you get a good job
////slashies
 
2012-07-30 08:28:39 PM  

Indubitably: Did you 'consciously' write "consciously" twice in your opening volley? Consciously?


Yes.
 
2012-07-30 08:29:18 PM  
Clearly you're giving the proles too much to work with. Time to train them with practical skills from birth. That'll get rid of all those protesty hipsters.
 
2012-07-30 08:30:29 PM  

Babwa Wawa: You can teach basic stats without advanced algebra. You can also use stats to demystify, illustrate the application of, and tantalize kids into learning advanced algebra.


No you can't. How do you explain what a normal distribution is without algebra? Confidence intervals? You can't do them justice without calculus, to say nothing of doing it without algebra. Unless you water it down to the point where it's utterly useless.
 
2012-07-30 08:30:38 PM  

umad: They are amusing. Amusing and wrong. That is the beauty with math. A problem can be approached from many perspectives, but there will still only be one correct answer.


This assumes mathematics is all convergent problems. Convergent problems for any subject will have one correct answer, which is due to the nature of convergent problems. What is amusing about this is the use of "one correct answer". In mathematics, unlike is often the case in other subjects, the answers to convergent problems are not our concern. When I give a convergent question in biology, I want to know the student knows this fact. However, when I give a convergent question in algebra, I want to know the student knows this process.

Convergent problems are extremely useful tools to using mathematics to solve real-world problems by dividing real-world problems into series of convergent problems. Mathematics, though, often hinges on identifying the problem; analysis and logic are both strongly tied to and developed by mathematics.

The answers to those questions far up thread, though, are not the type of thing I am talking about so this is more of a tangent.
 
2012-07-30 08:33:05 PM  

Pharmdawg: While I had trouble in high school, I did well in math in college, perhaps because I knew I had to do so in order to get the degree I had to pay for. I had a good math prof ( who was hot) and a very good physics prof who made sure we understood not just that a given equation would solve a specific situational problem, but also what each term in the equation represented and why it was there. Same in pharmacy school. We had a prof explain in one week in one class what the prof we had in the previous class spent all semester trying to teach.


I recall many years ago watching a series on TV that was intended as a college-level math course. The information was displayed visually; there would be an equation at the bottom of the screen, and there might be, for example, a graphic of an elliptical planetary orbit above. The animation of the orbit would start, with arrows representing the planetary velocity and the relative gravitational pull between the two bodies. As the animation progressed, the arrows would broaden, lengthen or change color to represent the different values involved, while at the same time the numbers in the equation below would change. I remember thinking "oh, I GET it!", even though I couldn't do the equation to save my life. At least it gave me an idea of the relationships between the values in a way I could understand, in a rudimentary way.
 
2012-07-30 08:33:27 PM  

ProfessorOhki: Indubitably: Did you 'consciously' write "consciously" twice in your opening volley? Consciously?

Yes.


Consciously-cubed, then.

You realize all hell is going to break loose, right?

Consciously cubed?

Seriously?

Consciousness help us all...

Consciously five is still alive.

;)
 
2012-07-30 08:33:33 PM  

Brontes: Testiclaw: Brontes: dimensional analysis

DA is the most useful method of problem solving I've ever learned.

Yet so skipped over in basic algebra it really blows the mind. It is amazing what a little logic and unit matching can do to a problem.


To be fair, there's sort of a large element of luck in actually gaining something from dimensional analysis. It's definitely a good, fast way to tell when you've farked something up, though, and that alone saves you loads of time. And it's a good starting point for the more empirical endeavours, to boot.

That said, what I really wish that algebra (rather than math in general) would have stressed more was formula derivation. The last bit of your Algebra 1 final shouldn't be "what is the quadratic equation?", it should be "Here is a quadratic formula. Derive the quadratic equation (shown here) with no single step exceeding two basic operations".

Being taught a method for solving a problem is useful, I'm not arguing that, I'm just saying that I'd have gotten a lot more mileage out of knowing where it came from, because that would have given me basically the entirety of the class like a semester and a half faster (it's just breaking the equation into bits of varying composition and rearranging them, which is literally the primary thing you want to learn).

//I pick on the quadratic formula specifically because I'm a fan of the "one big idea that's made of all the little ideas you need" approach to teaching. Then, I teach engineering students mostly when I teach these days, so I suppose it's not surprising that I get good results from that one.
 
2012-07-30 08:38:02 PM  
Nearly every example algebra problem people have presented in this thread is at the grade 5/6 level math.


So, this isn't a high school problem. This is a primary grade school problem. stop passing kids that can't handle grade 6 algebra. keep them there until they can do it, then just have a "math" class in high school where you remind them about it and repeat the material so they can actually do it. Then test them and send them on their way.

talking about high school and college algebra here is not the problem.
 
2012-07-30 08:38:24 PM  
i165.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 08:43:54 PM  

Mad Tea Party: Babwa Wawa: You can teach basic stats without advanced algebra. You can also use stats to demystify, illustrate the application of, and tantalize kids into learning advanced algebra.

No you can't. How do you explain what a normal distribution is without algebra? Confidence intervals? You can't do them justice without calculus, to say nothing of doing it without algebra. Unless you water it down to the point where it's utterly useless.


You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. As dbaggins wrote above, you only need grade 7-8 algebra to teach introduction to probability and statistics and high school physics. I remember being absolutely shocked that my Physics 101 and Intro to Stats classes used no math skills beyond what I had in 9th grade. If you disagree, then I don't know what to say. I've used probability as the use case to introduce people to basic algebra before. One does not necessarily have to follow the other.

The idea that we should have every HS grad have complete mastery of algebra when we're not even bothering to introduce them to probability/statistics, logic, and physics is baffling to me.
 
2012-07-30 08:44:50 PM  
I do this maths in my head.
 
2012-07-30 08:45:00 PM  
If you wanted to teach kids only things that are useful, you could probably do it in 5 years or less.
Then who the hell would babysit educate our kids??
 
2012-07-30 08:45:58 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Being taught a method for solving a problem is useful, I'm not arguing that, I'm just saying that I'd have gotten a lot more mileage out of knowing where it came from, because that would have given me basically the entirety of the class like a semester and a half faster (it's just breaking the equation into bits of varying composition and rearranging them, which is literally the primary thing you want to learn).

//I pick on the quadratic formula specifically because I'm a fan of the "one big idea that's made of all the little ideas you need" approach to teaching.


F'n signed.

"You use this to find the roots of a second order polynomial."
"Whoa, how does it work?!"
"We don't have time to cover it in this class."
 
2012-07-30 08:46:39 PM  

neenerist: DarwiOdrade: Math helps you function in the real world.

[i50.tinypic.com image 519x61]">

Alll the math a Poli Sci grad needs.


i'm gonna open a restaurant where its gonna be:

SMALL
MEDIOMIA
LARGE
DIOS MIO ES GRANDE
 
2012-07-30 08:48:33 PM  

doglover: Agent Smiths Laugh: Then you suck at following instructions?

That's what math can be reduced to. Your ability to follow instructions. Being able to visually recognize certain symbols and knowing what instructions to follow when you see them.

That's why math is not taught properly.

People with an innate grasp of math teach it. That's why everyone thinks it's hard. If you start fencing against Zorro, Dartanian, and Ingio Montoya and they don't take it easy on you, you're gonna think OMFG FENCING IS IMPOSSIBLE. That's what math class does. It's a bunch of people who automatically get it because of a natural propensity for the skill with years of experience yelling at you for not being born into an artificial way of thinking.

Math class cuts all the important and real life parts of math out and presents it in the least useful, most boring, and an entirely haughty way. And they we act surprised when the only people who can do math really well are boring and haughty and not very practical. You get what you teach.

Like I said in the redlit thread: we shouldn't stop teaching math, we should stop teaching math like we do. Instead of hard rules for making integers have sex for an hour a day, teach real world examples and introduce practical applications from day one. Don't just say "You can use the area of a square to measure your floor." make all the problems "You must carpet this house. Here is the price per square foot per carpet. You have $2000. Which carpet can you afford?"

Witthout that real world anchor right away, most people will never get it.


That's not entirely without merit.

In the occasions I've found myself required to teach others, I've found that being able to develop analogies and examples is vastly more effective at actually conveying understanding of the subject than by simply "teaching by rote".

That, however, does bring me to my next point:

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: buckler: Dafatone: I taught part-time (homework center help) at a small college where the students were by and large unimpressive.

The ones who needed the most help were in what I guess was basic algebra. Fractions with variables, stuff like that.

It's really, really hard to teach factoring to kids who have trouble grasping negative numbers. I'm still stumped at how to explain it, since to me it's been an intuitive / guess and check sorta thing.

I always found language to be interpretive, but math to be incomprehensible. The "one right way, one right answer" approach just never clicked with me. I always wanted to ask "but why is that the case?", and found "because it's a fundamental property of our universe," to be unsatisfying as an answer. I'm not saying that isn't the case, but the way in which my brain approaches problems just doesn't seem to mesh with it, for some reason.

...

Yes, I understand that, and I can certainly do the basic math that allows me to get by, but in my own experience, there comes a point when the instructions simply stop making sense to me. I'm less inclined to follow them as I am to ask why these rules exist in the first place; I always seem to fall back into an interpretive mode. At some point, the sheer number of these seemingly-arbitrary rules (though I know they aren't) simply overwhelms me. With English, I may have a dozen ways to express the same idea. In math, there is only one correct way; there's little to no room for interpretation, and that's where I get into trouble. I'm expected to memorize hundreds of different rules with absolute precision, and know when to apply them. I don't know why, but for me, I can do that with language, but not numbers.

It isn't a matter of not being able to follow instructions; it's that some rulesests are easier to facilitate than others. I can't really explain it. That's what I mean besides not looking down on people who have a firm grasp of English while being brilliant at math (thanks for the insult, by the way), because I suffer difficulties when approaching things from the opposite direction.


First, I wasn't trying to actually insult you so much as sucker-punch you with a simplified way of looking at the subject.

I think where you stumble is is accepting that fundamental math simply does have very specific rules that must be followed. There is no interpretation. You have to follow the rules correctly every time. If you don't follow the rules correctly you will get the answer wrong...every time.

It's the purest form of logic.

But when you think about it, even in language you are following certain rules every time, particularly with grammar. You know when to use periods, because you know, procedurally, where they are to be used, what sequence of characters denotes the use of a period, or comma, or apostrophe. If you don't, you're doing it wrong. Granted, grammar can be used incorrectly for effect, and actually serve its purpose of conveying ideas better for having done so. Math does not provide that leeway.

In a certain sense you're applying the same kind of understanding in grammar as one does in math.

123 and xyz are just symbols. Symbols you've learned to manipulate within a certain set of rules that depend on the organization of the symbols.

"x + spoon = & pickle" doesn't mean anything because you know, procedurally, that those symbols together don't mean anything and don't fit a rule-set.

"x+3 = 5" you can handle, procedurally, if you know the rule-set is math because you've learned to recognize the order of the symbols as such.

Just as you know that this is a proper sentence (Sally said, "I hate math.") because you recognize the characters as denoting speech, and know the rule-set that applies that sequence of characters.

But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.
 
2012-07-30 08:51:06 PM  

Thoguh: Babwa Wawa: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

That's applied arithmetic (multiplication).

Total cost is 3X, where X is the price per pound. You have to use algebra to know where to plug in the variables.


see that's where both of you are sounding very unAmerican!! when was the last time you have count and do math in a store or when grocery shopping?? the cashier (who probably can't even spell algebra) would let the machine tell you WHAT 3 ibs of meat is!!!!!!

AMERICA FARKK YAAHHH@@@@@
 
2012-07-30 08:53:27 PM  
"Wall of Error, much?"

;)
 
2012-07-30 08:54:18 PM  
I don't want to beat the dead horse much more, so I'll just say this: I have a great admiration for those with a mastery of mathematics. It is a wonderful thing, and I understand it has a certain poetry all its own. Personally, I have tried and tried to gain at least a basic competency, but at some point, there comes a time when my brain just refuses to process it any further. I'm not unintelligent, but my intelligence just lies elsewhere. Maybe with more work, and a facilitator that can teach in a way I can understand it better, I might improve.

I know there are some here who compare that with basic illiteracy, and you might be right on that count; I don't know. When I spoke about that roommate of mine who admitted to me that he was illiterate, and who I helped, I was talking about a guy who was not at all stupid. He was a brilliant cook who created fantastic things, made even better by the fact that he created them intuitively, without the ability to read a recipe.

Intelligence comes in all forms, and despite how smart you may be, there is always, always someone who can do something you admire and aspire to do, and who does it better than you.

/out
 
2012-07-30 08:54:45 PM  
FTFA: It's not hard to understand why Caltech and M.I.T. want everyone to be proficient in mathematics. But it's not easy to see why potential poets and philosophers face a lofty mathematics bar.

Sure..... failing to teach algebra and geometry might not hobble a future poet but it will sidetrack a future engineer or physicist. Since we don't wear our future occupations like badges on our foreheads we are forced to educate everyone in the basics of our civilization. Sure, everyone may not "need" such an education (by a very narrow definition of need) but we must damn well make sure that the ones who do get it.
 
2012-07-30 08:55:04 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: "x + spoon = & pickle" doesn't mean anything because you know, procedurally, that those symbols together don't mean anything and don't fit a rule-set.


spoon=&pickle+x, on the other hand...
 
2012-07-30 08:55:11 PM  

Babwa Wawa: Mad Tea Party: Babwa Wawa: You can teach basic stats without advanced algebra. You can also use stats to demystify, illustrate the application of, and tantalize kids into learning advanced algebra.

No you can't. How do you explain what a normal distribution is without algebra? Confidence intervals? You can't do them justice without calculus, to say nothing of doing it without algebra. Unless you water it down to the point where it's utterly useless.

You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. As dbaggins wrote above, you only need grade 7-8 algebra to teach introduction to probability and statistics and high school physics. I remember being absolutely shocked that my Physics 101 and Intro to Stats classes used no math skills beyond what I had in 9th grade. If you disagree, then I don't know what to say. I've used probability as the use case to introduce people to basic algebra before. One does not necessarily have to follow the other.

The idea that we should have every HS grad have complete mastery of algebra when we're not even bothering to introduce them to probability/statistics, logic, and physics is baffling to me.


You are confused about when schools teach algebra. In both my and my daughter's school it starts in 8th grade for the ADVANCED classes. No, algebra is a highschool class.
 
2012-07-30 08:55:43 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.


Thanks for that clarification. Sorry I jumped the gun. I was made to feel defensive.
 
2012-07-30 08:59:49 PM  

Kimothy: They're, not their. Damn.


You had it right the first time...
 
2012-07-30 09:02:30 PM  
Liberal teachers. That is the problem. Everything is about self-esteem boosting and crap. Let teachers kick a little ass and fire all the hippie moonbeam ones.

Problems all solved.
 
2012-07-30 09:02:42 PM  
The only college math class I had trouble with was calculus, and that was only because the prof didn't speak English beyond a few simple phrases. I would have earned a much better grade if I took the prerequisite courses in Korean.
 
2012-07-30 09:02:56 PM  
Math is necessary.

How else are the kids suppose to know how much 40 grams of weed is.
 
2012-07-30 09:03:11 PM  
Many of those who struggled through a traditional math regimen feel that doing so annealed their character.


Look, sometimes when you're LARPing it's hard to stand the entire time. But don't blame the math!
 
2012-07-30 09:06:28 PM  

autopsybeverage: The only college math class I had trouble with was calculus, and that was only because the prof didn't speak English beyond a few simple phrases. I would have earned a much better grade if I took the prerequisite courses in Korean.


Ya I learned calc from bonan jang. My professor got cancer and I ended up with a non-english guy. He said 'sumpshun' like every third word. It was ridiculous and I should have gotten a refund.
 
2012-07-30 09:07:02 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


And better informed. There are Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.
 
2012-07-30 09:07:50 PM  

buckler: I know there are some here who compare that with basic illiteracy, and you might be right on that count; I don't know. When I spoke about that roommate of mine who admitted to me that he was illiterate, and who I helped, I was talking about a guy who was not at all stupid. He was a brilliant cook who created fantastic things, made even better by the fact that he created them intuitively, without the ability to read a recipe.

Intelligence comes in all forms, and despite how smart you may be, there is always, always someone who can do something you admire and aspire to do, and who does it better than you.


But by learning how to write, he gained the ability to record his own recipes and share the fruits intuition with a wider audience. The same concept seems pretty transferable to math: It's a tool for recording your methodology so that those who can't do it from pure intuition can reproduce it themselves. So someone else can playback the process you followed and gain the benefits of your talents even if wouldn't have been obvious to them.

Without that, when he was gone, everything he'd created would be lost with him.
 
2012-07-30 09:12:17 PM  

lockers:
You are confused about when schools teach algebra. In both my and my daughter's school it starts in 8th grade for the ADVANCED classes. No, algebra is a highschool class.


He may be confused by the fact that we kind of run out of names for classes that lie within the vocabulary of students of the appropriate grade level, so we tend to get lazy and just name them after the class before or after and add "pre" to the beginning or "II" to the end.

For instance, eighth-grade math, a class that would probably be called something like "long-form operations (basic)" were an adult in a technical field to name it, is usually called "pre-algebra" in Texas, despite having nothing to do with Algebra. The high-school trigonometry course is called "pre-calculus" despite having nothing to do with calculus, and the mathematical rhetoric/proofs class is called "geometry" despite being only baaaaaarely about geometry in any recognizable fashion.

So someone that hasn't been an actual student or teacher in a while (like, say, a parent, or someone looking it up on the internet) can pretty easily look over a list of course names, see the word "algebra", and go "holy shiat, they're teaching kids algebra in junior high now? That just seems unnecessary." Not so much the reader's fault as our* fault for naming things in a lazy/retarded fashion. Poor documentation usually ends like that in basically every field.

*our = educators
 
2012-07-30 09:12:42 PM  
img24.imageshack.us
 
2012-07-30 09:13:04 PM  

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.

Thanks for that clarification. Sorry I jumped the gun. I was made to feel defensive.


It's alright. The big trick I've found in teaching someone a subject like math is first getting them over the fear and self-doubt stage. Some people quickly convince themselves that they suck at math the first time they run into a tricky problem, or get one wrong, when they really don't. They have the skills, they just haven't had the rules explained to them in a way they digested. They've often been sabotaged by fear and self-doubt from previous mistakes, which can create a destructive feedback loop as continued mistakes feed that fear, until they just give up.

I think it's pretty much the same with any intellectual discipline.

That's why I find analogy and example to be so useful in teaching. It provides people with alternate ways to look at something that often prove more "digestible" to them.

It also helps bridge the fear gap once they start realizing that it isn't really as hard as they assumed it was, once they have a way of looking at it that they can get a foothold on.

I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

That one simple metaphor got him through to graduation.
 
2012-07-30 09:18:28 PM  

meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.


The problem is understanding algebra too much won't get you even to first base, if you know what I mean.
 
2012-07-30 09:19:17 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


Not algebra. That's simple arithmetic.
 
2012-07-30 09:20:37 PM  

Grand_Moff_Joseph: A huge part of the problem is that math isn't being taught correctly, even by the (many) good teachers out there. I spent far too much time in math classes working on the "theory", the "whys" of math, and little time on the practical application thereof.

For example: No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares "why" 2+2=4, or "why" limits and log functions work the way that they do. Why are spending half of a test writing proofs for these concepts? We should be using those tests to apply the ideas to problems, and find reality-based ways to solve them.

Also, while I understand the pervasiveness of calculators and computers today (my TI83 got me through Trig and Calc), calculators need to stay out of the classroom until at least high school. I'm not a math whiz, but I can make change in my head. When the power went out in the WalMart I worked at in College, half of the cashiers had to use their phones to calculate change amounts because they couldn't do it manually.


Among the dumbest things ever posted on fark. Learning the "why" is the only value of math, it is all reasoning and logical proofs.
 
2012-07-30 09:20:53 PM  
Author is a dip-shiat.
 
2012-07-30 09:22:19 PM  

buckler: I don't want to beat the dead horse much more, so I'll just say this: I have a great admiration for those with a mastery of mathematics. It is a wonderful thing, and I understand it has a certain poetry all its own. Personally, I have tried and tried to gain at least a basic competency, but at some point, there comes a time when my brain just refuses to process it any further. I'm not unintelligent, but my intelligence just lies elsewhere. Maybe with more work, and a facilitator that can teach in a way I can understand it better, I might improve.

I know there are some here who compare that with basic illiteracy, and you might be right on that count; I don't know. When I spoke about that roommate of mine who admitted to me that he was illiterate, and who I helped, I was talking about a guy who was not at all stupid. He was a brilliant cook who created fantastic things, made even better by the fact that he created them intuitively, without the ability to read a recipe.

Intelligence comes in all forms, and despite how smart you may be, there is always, always someone who can do something you admire and aspire to do, and who does it better than you.

/out


Dude, you got a "Free-Love" card, golden.

*bow*

P.S. To bow one way is to be made supplicant by money, and to bow another way respectfully is respect, and to *bow* on stage is to say, "You're welcome for my performance, now kindly suck my dick after the show..."

P.P.S. To bow indubitably is to bow all ways...

P.P.P.S. But, remember, to bow is to gain the advantage of depth. To rise up, from a low stance, to strike hard and deep, to raise the level of the ground, to quake and disturb those that sat so firmly upon the ground before the bow...
 
2012-07-30 09:22:52 PM  

Mimic_Octopus: Babwa Wawa: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.

no you dont don't. there are no scientists that who cant can't write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that who like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me∨." it is their job to provide specialized high∨-tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own∨, thanks.

[these are in addition to capitalization errors]

It's generally accepted that many people in science and tech fields are not especially great written communicators. Just ask my dad, who taught basic mechanical engineering at RPI for a couple years and said that some of the kids couldn't write a one-page paper. People don't say, "I are an engineer" for no reason. (On the reverse side of that coin, some liberal arts majors can't do simple math without the aid of a calculator).

At most universities, you can place out of certain requirements (like basic writing and basic math) with a minimum score on certain standardized or university-administered tests. If you can't, you take the classes. The universities, for selfish and obvious reasons, don't want to put out retards in the world who can't properly punctuate their sentences or calculate the tip on a bill.

/you want specialized training? go to a trade school. you want an education? go to college.
 
2012-07-30 09:23:27 PM  
The day after midterms were handed back in a stat class, one of the nursing students demanded to have a word or two with the instructor.

"I don't understand how you expect me to learn this stuff. I'm going to be a nurse! What have statistics ever done for the nursing profession?"

The professor though for a second and replied, "Young lady, statistics save lives."

The student did no believe this. "How so?"

"Simple. They prevent idiots from becoming nurses."


/The joke is even sadder if you replace "stat" with "algebra"
 
2012-07-30 09:25:36 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.


Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.
 
2012-07-30 09:27:20 PM  
Wow, what a dumbass. If you aren't capable of doing simple algebra, your "political opinion" and "social analysis" is worthless.
 
2012-07-30 09:28:31 PM  

turbidum: Mimic_Octopus: Babwa Wawa: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.

no you dont don't. there are no scientists that who cant can't write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that who like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me∨." it is their job to provide specialized high∨-tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own∨, thanks. [these are in addition to capitalization errors]

It's generally accepted that many people in science and tech fields are not especially great written communicators. Just ask my dad, who taught basic mechanical engineering at RPI for a couple years and said that some of the kids couldn't write a one-page paper. People don't say, "I are an engineer" for no reason. (On the reverse side of that coin, some liberal arts majors can't do simple math without the aid of a calculator).

At most universities, you can place out of certain requirements (like basic writing and basic math) with a minimum score on certain standardized or university-administered tests. If you can't, you take the classes. The universities, for selfish and obvious reasons, don't want to put out retards in the world who can't properly punctuate their sentences or calculate the tip on a bill.

/you want specialized training? go to a trade school. you want an education? go to college.


*trying to work out whether that's a compliment or not*
 
2012-07-30 09:29:03 PM  

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.


Yeah that's pretty much the kind of examples I used to teach him how to comprehend current, voltage, and resistance. =)
 
2012-07-30 09:29:07 PM  

dericwater: meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.

The problem is understanding algebra too much won't get you even to first base, if you know what I mean.


That is absolutely not true. Algebra has gotten me laid as much as english or drama. The former working, the latter college.
 
2012-07-30 09:29:13 PM  
Sorry, response to wrong post...
 
2012-07-30 09:30:01 PM  
25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

static.guim.co.uk
 
2012-07-30 09:30:06 PM  

buckler: caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.

What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.


I thought it was very insightful and informed.
 
2012-07-30 09:30:06 PM  

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.


See?

I love thee.

*bow*
 
2012-07-30 09:32:09 PM  

Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*


Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.
 
2012-07-30 09:33:16 PM  

buckler: Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*

Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.


I'm not.
 
2012-07-30 09:34:14 PM  

Indubitably: buckler: Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*

Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.

I'm not.


What else do you want, number-y'alls? ;)
 
2012-07-30 09:35:01 PM  
Read my numbers.
 
2012-07-30 09:35:02 PM  

dericwater: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

Not algebra. That's simple arithmetic.


It depends. Are you actually multiplying .09 by three, then multiplying .9 by three and adding it in, then multiplying 2 by three and adding it in again? Because that's the arithmetic approach and it's kind of a pain in the ass.

If you're adding a cent so that it's 3$, multiplying that by 3, then subtracting 1 cent *3 on the understanding that the addition and subtraction operations cancel each other out, then you're doing algebra.

As with most examples of the practical difference between Arithmetic and Algebra, it's a matter of understanding how the problem works in a broader sense versus just grinding blindly through something you've memorized, with the end result being saving a bunch of time and effort to reach the same answer. This is what we're talking about when we say it's a basic practical skill more on par with being able to sound out words or recognize that a period ends a sentence than some vague academic form of literary analysis.
 
2012-07-30 09:36:25 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.


Oh, I know exactly how good I am at math. I used to get Cs all through middle school and high school in math. Straight A in Trig, though, because I took it concurrently with Physics. I finally GOT it. I didn't learn to love math until my very last math class, though, which was Calc II but by then I was years behind other physics students and it would have taken me seven years to graduate and I'd be undesirable without a PhD anyway, so I changed majors.

I got math, and I was good at it, once I got to physics. Physics taught me algebra. Algebra class didn't even teach me equations. Took me at least a month to figure them out because they were floating there in space doing nothing.

While I'm aware math follows certain rules, rote teaching is the worst possible way to convey those rules. But we keep doubling down on the rote practice YEARS before we get to the practical side.

Much better is to dangle the carrot of the practical side FIRST. Then you go in and teach the rules. That would get the people with no natural gift back in the game.
 
2012-07-30 09:40:02 PM  
admin.weathertrends360.com
 
2012-07-30 09:41:26 PM  

Babwa Wawa: You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. .


idk what you mean by "mastery" of algebra, but you need to be competent enough to be comfy with algebra to deal with things like the normal distribution, exponentials, functions, and graphing equations. Really, you need to know calc to even understand the basics of probability distributions and CIs.

I realize this sounds douchy, but if your stats courses didn't involve any of that, you really didn't learn stats.
 
2012-07-30 09:42:13 PM  
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
 
2012-07-30 09:42:19 PM  
I think a big obstacle to math is that it isn't taught in a way that kids can readily see useful applications, so a lot of kids think it's useless and put in the effort they think it deserves. When kids see adults, like the author of TFA, saying math isn't very useful it only reinforces that view.

CSB:

My dad used to be a carpenter. When I was a kid, around 7 or so, I remember I complained about having to do math homework on the basis there was no point to it in the real world. My dad was like "O RLY?" then set about going through a series of exercises with me along the lines of:

"I'm building a roof, the room is 20 feet long and the joists are 16" apart, how many will I need" then "OK, so the roof is on a 2:1 slope, how long do the joists have to be" then "OK, a beam X feet long costs Y, how much will the roof joists cost" and so on. I spent more than a few afternoons getting run through a series of questions like that, where there was a clear and real goal.

I guess it worked, I ended up acing math from elementary school all the way through to the end of an engineering degree.
 
2012-07-30 09:43:01 PM  

Mad Tea Party: Babwa Wawa: You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. .

idk what you mean by "mastery" of algebra, but you need to be competent enough to be comfy with algebra to deal with things like the normal distribution, exponentials, functions, and graphing equations. Really, you need to know calc to even understand the basics of probability distributions and CIs.

I realize this sounds douchy, but if your stats courses didn't involve any of that, you really didn't learn stats.


It's "douchie," thank you.
 
2012-07-30 09:46:29 PM  

Rapmaster2000: EngineerBoy: The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.

IMHO, algebra is too often incorrectly taught as a series of steps rather than a concept.


Algebra is actually a way of thinking, a process of extracting the answer through, ahem, algebraic analysis. The other method would be trial and error guesses.

If I were to ask, "For each sack of potatoes I sell, I earn $50. But I have to pay a fixed rental of $500 for inventory storage and $1/sack for the labor to carry the sack to the cart. How many sacks do I have to sell to make enough to buy that pretty ring for my wife, the ring costing $350?" There is one way of solving this: guess the number of sacks and see how that compares to the $350. I would actually encourage people to try this for a while. There is another way, and that is state the problem using algebraic formulas and then extract the answer. (The term, "algebra" comes from the arabic, "al-jebr", reunion of broken parts: take the equation apart, and reform them in another way. You subtract the $500 from both sides, you divide by $49, on both sides, etc.)

So algebra proposes that answers can be solved by creating a mathematical model of the problem. The mathematical model is the object equation. You state what the variables (unknowns) are, and then through a process of breaking apart and rejoining, you extract the answer.

However, most real-life problems aren't solvable by this method. We know this because most problems are solved on computers using iterations of approximations to the answer. We input a guess, iterate until we get a stable solution using trial and error. Also, only first and second degree polynomial equations are easily solvable by using the "extraction" method. Once you go to fourth degree or higher, it's really difficult. And there are cases where it is mathematically impossible to solve via "extraction". A general fifth-degree polynomial is usually unsolvable by "divide both sides by 3, add 7 to both sides, take the cube-root of both sides..."

What happened is that math went from being a practical tool to help potato seller determine their shipping goals to more abstract understanding of the structure of mathematical objects. And the pedagogy and courses went along with this transition from practical tool to scientific exploration of a wholly human-created mental object (specifically, the integral domain that is the set of polynomials with rational - or real or complex - coefficients). Why? Because along the way, we saw some pretty cool stuff about how the structure of polynomials work. We saw that we can classify polynomials as expressions within a general idea of a function (a concept that is very applicable to programming). And among these functions, we can graph them, look at them, see what happens when you change the values of the coefficients.

But what is occurring is just day-dreaming by mathematicians. It's OCD on a polynomial. It has very little to do with practical everyday life. The potato seller doesn't care about cubic equations. He's never going to see one used with his sale of potatoes. Remember when you were a kid and you were practicing your handwriting? You wrote that "R" then you scripted it. Made it look fancy, made it bold, slanted it, wrote it backwards, wrote it in red, green... you can get pretty absorbed in that. You might even become a great font-creator, a typographist (like Steve Jobs). But it didn't help you communicate better.

What happened with math was taking that "R" and doing all those fancy things to it. Because once mathematicians looked at quadratics, they thought about cubics and quartics and, hey, what about negative degree polynomials? What about fractional degree polynomials (they're no longer polynomials, but...) What does it mean to be x^(3.5)? What does it mean to be x^y? And it goes from there. That's exploration, and that's basically what math books and math classes are teaching. Great if you plan to be a mathworld explorer (i.e., professor in mathematics looking at mathematical structures). But if you just want to figure out how many potatoes to sell, it's really a load of crap.
 
2012-07-30 09:47:54 PM  

wingedkat: downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.

2. Algebra, geometry, etc needs to be taught along with all the basics way back in grade school. Algebra especially is basically just math grammar, nothing that should be pulled out and made a big deal of.


I totally disagree with this. I think high school teachers should have at minimum a bachelor's degree in Math, not some baloney education degree. The PRAXIS test for mathematics content should be a breeze. I thought it was incredibly easy, but I got a BS in math. The fact that people had to study for and struggled to pass that test, and go on to become math teachers, frightens the hell out of me.

You can't effectively teach mathematics unless you UNDERSTAND it.



/Went on to get a master's in math
//Teach at a community college
 
2012-07-30 09:49:44 PM  

ontariolightning: 25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

[static.guim.co.uk image 460x898]


What is funny is while we are so low, trying to glean from the graphic on what the United States is doing wrong will do little. Several of the top countries have drastically different approaches to education, notably South Korea and Finland for the sheer divergence despite consistent results in the top three over the majority of subjects, and thus we cannot model ourselves directly after those. I believe what has worked for those countries instead of much of what we employ is modeling the system of education after the culture.
 
2012-07-30 09:51:39 PM  

doglover: Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.

Oh, I know exactly how good I am at math. I used to get Cs all through middle school and high school in math. Straight A in Trig, though, because I took it concurrently with Physics. I finally GOT it. I didn't learn to love math until my very last math class, though, which was Calc II but by then I was years behind other physics students and it would have taken me seven years to graduate and I'd be undesirable without a PhD anyway, so I changed majors.

I got math, and I was good at it, once I got to physics. Physics taught me algebra. Algebra class didn't even teach me equations. Took me at least a month to figure them out because they were floating there in space doing nothing.

While I'm aware math follows certain rules, rote teaching is the worst possible way to convey those rules. But we keep doubling down on the rote practice YEARS before we get to the practical side.

Much better is to dangle the carrot of the practical side FIRST. Then you go in and teach the rules. That would get the people with no natural gift back in the game.


I was actually responding to buckler, but I agree with some of what you said. Having a practical framework tends to teach way better than pure rote.

I believe in teaching a fusion of methods, especially in math. Demonstrate the rules, but also demonstrate the rules in action. Show how the rules interact in an analogous format, like say, taking inventory of a storeroom (I've used that one before).

A friend of mine had a hard time understanding roots when should could do exponents just fine...then I showed her on paper (using arrow signs and such) that roots are just reversing the exponent process, and she finally got it. She just hadn't visualized that they are just a forwards/backwards process with different symbols telling you which direction you're going.
 
2012-07-30 09:53:48 PM  

Indubitably: It's "douchie," thank you.


Science is my strong suit. Spelling and grammar, no so much.
 
2012-07-30 09:56:50 PM  

Vangor: ontariolightning: 25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

[static.guim.co.uk image 460x898]

What is funny is while we are so low, trying to glean from the graphic on what the United States is doing wrong will do little. Several of the top countries have drastically different approaches to education, notably South Korea and Finland for the sheer divergence despite consistent results in the top three over the majority of subjects, and thus we cannot model ourselves directly after those. I believe what has worked for those countries instead of much of what we employ is modeling the system of education after the culture.


Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's
 
2012-07-30 09:57:21 PM  

umad: You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math.


In higher math (mid to upper level undergrad math) you sure can.

Or at least, you can write a big mess of stuff and hope that there's enough in there to trick a grader into thinking you're closer than you are.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:14 PM  

Nilatir: Because People in power are Stupid: Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

That's the problem. You expect your teacher to "explain" something that is fundamentally visually based.

These expectations are really YOUR issue and not an issue with your teachers.

Blame the teacher if you can't persuade them to give you the grade that you want.

My degree requires courses up through Difficult Equations (with Stats and Combinatorial courses out to the side) so I understand what you mean by visual. But still "to teach" is to pass on information and skills and if the people teaching lack the skills to do that then I can see why, unless you come into a class already understanding the material (which many Engineering and Math students do), it could be frustrating for an Arts and Crafts major to overcome.


"Teaching" is a separate skillset than "knowing math". Put the two together and you find that the teacher is particularly challenged by lazy students making ridiculous assumptions about how the teacher is supposed to impart the knowledge in a book.

Generally one doesn't just "know math" which is what lazy American students seem to believe. It comes from drilling and doing work.

The problem is also Pavlovian. Everytime the students see the teacher -the teacher gives them work to do. Psychologically, the students then associate the teacher with this unpleasantness and subsequently blame the teacher when they fail to make an effort to get their homework done.

But that is not the hard part about teaching math. There are hardly those that are "English Phobic" or "Political Sciences Phobic". However, it is openly acceptable to be "math phobic". It's one of the many cop outs that lazy people come up with to blame the teacher, blame the subject and blame everyone except for themselves for not doing the work required to be good at math.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:16 PM  
Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:53 PM  

Jim_Callahan: State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.

For the record, this argument applied to English would be:

"State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master two-syllable words and telling a verb from a noun."

This is pretty basic stuff that's vital to basic functioning in society here. It's the technical version of functional literacy. Things like calculating your gas mileage and creating a personal budget so you don't go into debt require algebra, which makes the "this isn't personal finance" comment rather puzzling as well.


Maybe you could encourage the under-performing students by throwing acid at those who fail. After all, if it's good enough for women in politics, it's good enough for students, right?
 
2012-07-30 09:59:13 PM  

FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.



Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics


Not true in experimental physics either. Without some creative thinking you'd never figure out why your experiment wasn't working. The problem is that these non-scientists think it's all follow the recipe experiments like in high school science.
 
2012-07-30 10:01:49 PM  

Agent Smiths Laugh: She just hadn't visualized that they are just a forwards/backwards process with different symbols telling you which direction you're going.


I had the same problem with roots and division, again because of the notation.

The root sign is silly and looks weird and makes no sense. But x to the fraction makes perfect sense.

Most of the problems with math are the same problems with gambling or dungeons and dragons or any other high barrier to entry game. It LOOKS intimidating. Once you figure out what all the symbols mean, and the jargon, you find it's easy as pi.

What they have to do is clean up basic math notation so it looks less intimidating and makes more sense.
 
2012-07-30 10:02:10 PM  
distlib.blogs.com

Math isn't hard.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:10 PM  
John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

Perhaps then we should cancel English class: the Shakespeare we read in school differs markedly from the stuff we have to read in our cubicles at work.

And pretty much everything else in this guy's article could be applied to Shakespeare as well.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:32 PM  

Mad Tea Party: Indubitably: It's "douchie," thank you.

Science is my strong suit. Spelling and grammar, no so much.


This is precisely why you need me.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:33 PM  

dericwater: Algebra is actually a way of thinking, a process of extracting the answer through, ahem, algebraic analysis. The other method would be trial and error guesses.


Actually, the other method would be arithmetic, i.e. using a canned method you've memorized to execute a predefined operation. We had an example a few posts up.

Most methods of trial and error guesswork are algebraic in nature, you're constructing a methodology to narrow down large range into a smaller range. The one non-algebraic method would be to make a complete shot in the dark, once you're working with guesses plural, you're applying algebraic (or I guess Calculus depending on what exactly you're doing) methods. Albeit it's an operation on a vector rather than a scalar quantity, but still.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:46 PM  

fartacus: Wow, what a dumbass. If you aren't capable of doing simple algebra, your "political opinion" and "social analysis" is worthless.


I would bet you not one official in Obama's cabinet (besides Dr Stephen Chu) or Bush's or Clinton's or... going back to George Washington could use the quadratic formula to solve a quadratic equation. If it were the quartic formula for a quartic equation, you can throw in Chu in the mix. So are they all dumbasses and unfit to set policy?
 
2012-07-30 10:06:00 PM  
I am a Master of English, actually...
 
2012-07-30 10:06:30 PM  

hitlersbrain: Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.


I know, we can just go back to describing everything with words rather than symbols, because that wasn't clunky at all.
 
2012-07-30 10:07:32 PM  

lockers: dericwater: meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.

The problem is understanding algebra too much won't get you even to first base, if you know what I mean.

That is absolutely not true. Algebra has gotten me laid as much as english or drama. The former working, the latter college.


Really? How did you incorporate algebra into your patter and still maintain interest?
 
2012-07-30 10:08:44 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Agreed. And through in a class on critical thinking skills as well.
 
2012-07-30 10:09:06 PM  

FloydA: Maybe you could encourage the under-performing students by throwing acid at those who fail. After all, if it's good enough for women in politics, it's good enough for students, right?


Nothing to say on this topic, eh? Did it occur to you that maybe the best plan in that case might be not to post anything? I know that's not algebra as such but there's some logic involved, at least.
 
2012-07-30 10:09:24 PM  

Pincy: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Agreed. And through in a class on critical thinking skills as well.


Oops, "throw", not "through".

/I'm tired.
 
2012-07-30 10:10:14 PM  

ontariolightning: Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's


I do not mean "drastically different" from the United States' in terms of culture or approach but with each other. As far as I know, and forgive me as I have never lived in Canada nor visited for long, tuition rates are lower (for public universities), teacher prestige is higher (pay, benefits, standards, etc.,), and material resources (funding per school across districts) for schools is more even, which speaks to me of a commitment to education and seems an expectation of Canadians I know to have access to and continue through education (by this I mean at least finish secondary school). We share similarities, but where we diverge is the significant part with commitment in the system and culture, which to me is the reason for this working well for Canada.
 
2012-07-30 10:10:58 PM  

Skirl Hutsenreiter: hitlersbrain: Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.

I know, we can just go back to describing everything with words rather than symbols, because that wasn't clunky at all.


How many people read short hand? If they did would they be smarter? How many people would be illiterate if shorthand was the only way to read or write?

It's the computer age, ditch the farking chalk and arcane symbols so people with a life can understand WTF you are doing.
 
2012-07-30 10:11:21 PM  
I need to jump on the "the way they teach is flawed" bandwagon. I failed Algebra 1 three times in highschool. My IQ is 99th percentile and I have been programming C++ since I was in 6th grade. I took a math placement test in I think it was 5th or 6th grade, which included algebra and other advanced mathematics before they actually taught us pre algebra etc, to gauge the populace knowledge. Not only did I score the highest in my school, I had the 23rd highest score in the entire country (don't remember how many states used the same test, but it was a widely used standardized thing).

Needless to say, I farking knew algebra. Didn't matter, because I didn't follow their template they teach from. I finally was lucky enough to be withdrawn from public school, and my parents shelled out for a private education my junior year. At private school, I completed 4 years worth of math in less than 2 years, and damn was it easy once they let me do my own thing.

There is a problem with our public schools. End of story.
 
2012-07-30 10:12:42 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: There are hardly those that are "English Phobic"


Are you joking?

Have you ever BEEN to school. In America, you don't see it all the time because we're monolingual and most people can speak English just fine so we don't even teach it.

But there's plenty of people who're afraid of a wall of text or words they don't know. There's also hundred of thousands of non Native speakers who are utterly and totally convinced that they can't speak English. And they sit there and they tell me IN PERFECT ENGLISH that they can't speak English over a beer. But if you asked them to make that little speech about how English is hard on a test, they'd pass out from nervousness. English phobia is very real, my friend.
 
2012-07-30 10:13:41 PM  

Vangor: ontariolightning: Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's

I do not mean "drastically different" from the United States' in terms of culture or approach but with each other. As far as I know, and forgive me as I have never lived in Canada nor visited for long, tuition rates are lower (for public universities), teacher prestige is higher (pay, benefits, standards, etc.,), and material resources (funding per school across districts) for schools is more even, which speaks to me of a commitment to education and seems an expectation of Canadians I know to have access to and continue through education (by this I mean at least finish secondary school). We share similarities, but where we diverge is the significant part with commitment in the system and culture, which to me is the reason for this working well for Canada.


i would agree with that assessment
 
2012-07-30 10:14:22 PM  

wingedkat:

Based on your profile, I was expecting some sort of pointed sexist attack I wasn't seeing. Now I'm just disappointed, because you are actually just not very good at this. Don't worry, practice makes perfect!


You are a particular breed of ignoramus. No, really -look in the mirror and say it: "Ignoramus". Let it dance on your mouth as you sound out each syllable. The word suits you and this is why:

You base your assumptions about the validity of what one is saying based upon what you know about them -not on the validity of what they are saying.

Since we are talking about math: if someone online says that 2+2 =4 then the validity of that statement is only verified if you can look at their profile. Since my profile is entirely fake -you make assumptions about what I'm supposed to say based on that.

Does it shock you that I am not a feathered dinosaur wearing a hat and holding a cane? -Ignoramus, you should change your profile name.
 
2012-07-30 10:14:36 PM  

hitlersbrain: It's the computer age, ditch the farking chalk and arcane symbols so people with a life can understand WTF you are doing.


You really think that the mobius inversion formula would magically make sense to people if only we described it in plain English?

Perhaps you could do us a favor and state that formula in plain English, so we can see how much clearer it becomes?
 
2012-07-30 10:16:36 PM  

dericwater: How did you incorporate algebra into your patter and still maintain interest?


"Hey baby on the corner in fishnets at this late hour. I'll give you n to ten dollars where n is the number of times you make me feel good in my penis. "
 
2012-07-30 10:19:32 PM  

doglover: Because People in power are Stupid: There are hardly those that are "English Phobic"

Are you joking?

Have you ever BEEN to school. In America, you don't see it all the time because we're monolingual and most people can speak English just fine so we don't even teach it.

But there's plenty of people who're afraid of a wall of text or words they don't know. There's also hundred of thousands of non Native speakers who are utterly and totally convinced that they can't speak English. And they sit there and they tell me IN PERFECT ENGLISH that they can't speak English over a beer. But if you asked them to make that little speech about how English is hard on a test, they'd pass out from nervousness. English phobia is very real, my friend.


I was speaking about a phobia in the same context that people are math phobic. I figured that the readers were smart enough to figure out what I meant without quibbling on some obscure exception where someone is literally scared of learning a new language. For the record I was referring to native English speakers who would attend a regular English class and suffer from something akin to "math phobia". Sorry for my assumptions.
 
2012-07-30 10:20:34 PM  

ontariolightning: i would agree with that assessment


Wait... you agree? But this is Fark! We can't agree. That is like dividing by zero.

/glad to know I am not far off
//such a strange intersect between the culture and the system
 
2012-07-30 10:21:08 PM  

ontariolightning: Vangor: ontariolightning: Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's

I do not mean "drastically different" from the United States' in terms of culture or approach but with each other. As far as I know, and forgive me as I have never lived in Canada nor visited for long, tuition rates are lower (for public universities), teacher prestige is higher (pay, benefits, standards, etc.,), and material resources (funding per school across districts) for schools is more even, which speaks to me of a commitment to education and seems an expectation of Canadians I know to have access to and continue through education (by this I mean at least finish secondary school). We share similarities, but where we diverge is the significant part with commitment in the system and culture, which to me is the reason for this working well for Canada.

i would agree with that assessment


In Japan, there's a billions of yen strong industry of juku (they call them cram schools, but really it's tutoring services) and nearly every child is sent to one at some point in their careers. It's not uncommon for grade school children to be seen as late as 8 PM going home from these expensive tutoring sessions.

So while Japanese math class may look a lot like ours on paper, the whole education system here revolves around a lot of outside tutoring and every subject is rote memorization.
 
2012-07-30 10:23:22 PM  
Come to think of it, if they would teach basic computer programming skills starting from a very young age (ie as they're learning how to use computers), i have a feeling people would be MUCH better at algebra. I seem to recall that most students were frustrated by the fact that algebra seems abstract... its hard to apply it to "real life" from a childs mind. Programming would bridge that gap nicely, as the students would understand manipulating variables etc in a very logic driven way.

/Disclaimer: ive always been a computer nerd, from the first time i touched one in elementary school
 
2012-07-30 10:24:10 PM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.

But why learn even the basics of the language of all creation when you could just pound out a degree in political science and get paid to expand stupid questions in the New York Times into a thousand word screed against basic competency, right?


Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).

It all boils down to the fact that you can't prove some important and incredibly useful principles without using the law of the excluded middle, and you can't prove the vailidity of the law of the excluded middle without A) enumerating an infinite set, or B) using the law of the excluded middle. Neither alternative pleases.

Heck, the entire field of calculus is basically a way of working around the fact that division by zero is 'undefined' (speed is distance divided by time. Instantaneous speed is an object's speed at a specific moment (i.e.: time = 0). Therefore the definition of instantaneous speed requires you to divide by zero). Newton and Leibnitz made it work at a "yeah, we get the right answers" level, but it took another century for Cauchy to wallpaper over the hole they made in the basic foundations of math.

If you can't get into the 21st century, at least try to get into the second half of the 20th.

And for the rest of the peanut gallery:

'Algebra' is what happens when you combine an operation equivalent to 'addition' with an operation equivalent to 'mutiplication'. There are certain additional rules the system has to obey (zen cookie for the first person capable of listing them), but those are the basic pieces.

"If a box of pencils costs $A, a notebook costs $B, and various other school supplies cost $D ... $K, how much does it cost to kit three kids out for the start of school?" is an algebra problem. Please stop hurting my head by claiming there's some difference between "basic adding and multiplying" and "algebra".

.. but yes, I'll agree that not one damn person in the history of mathematics has ever used the quadratic theorem to do anything other than find the roots of a second-order differential equation.
 
2012-07-30 10:24:35 PM  
Considering the level of reading comprehension displayed by this thread I can only conclude that Americans need more liberal arts and less math.
 
2012-07-30 10:27:05 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: I was speaking about a phobia in the same context that people are math phobic.


So am I. You can't just reduce your argument's assumption to "I was assuming cases where I am correct."

Math is a symbolic language. We don't grow up speaking it. We don't need it to learn the basic skills it uses, as they are cross disciplinary. So someone who is "math phobic" is more like someone learning English as a second language than you realize.
 
2012-07-30 10:34:39 PM  
A journalism major whining that algebra is too hard. Who'da thunk?

Algebra is logic. It's a method of approaching problems, breaking them down, and finding solutions.

If you're not capable of doing algebra, I have to doubt your ability to think rationally or come to logically-derived conclusions.

And claiming that algebra can be replaced with statistics or probability just shows that you have no clue how do those, either (but again, journalists).
 
2012-07-30 10:37:21 PM  

Mad Tea Party: idk what you mean by "mastery" of algebra, but you need to be competent enough to be comfy with algebra to deal with things like the normal distribution, exponentials, functions, and graphing equations. Really, you need to know calc to even understand the basics of probability distributions and CIs.

I realize this sounds douchy, but if your stats courses didn't involve any of that, you really didn't learn stats.


If you really think that a person needs calculus before being merely introduced to the concepts and some of the math associated with probability and statistics, then you are part of the problem.

Mastery is a term used by educators for a method of teaching. An example would be that you teach a child how to add single digits. Once he's demonstrated mastery of single digit addition, you teach single digit subtraction. Once that's done you go on to double digit addition with no carry-overs. And so on.

This is not how math (or any subject, for that matter) is taught in elementary school. You get instruction and practice a topic (such as carry-over addition), then move on to something like fractions, then loop back a week or two later to the carry-over addition. This is a far more successful approach to teaching pretty much every subject, but it's completely abandoned in most math curricula starting in 7th grade. This method is especially devastating because the cognitive structures required to grasp abstract mathematical thought do not usually exist before the age of 11, and can sometimes not appear until the mid-teens.

Yet mastery method is how math is taught from 7th-12th grade. As a result, it's at least four years of abstract math before the student gets to apply it in chemistry or physics or statistics. As a result, only kids who are motivated to do well academically or just naturals retain or even enjoy math. If you show the kids how what they're learning can be applied as you're teaching it, or better yet teach the application (statistics) in conjunction with the method (algebra), you'll get much better participation.

Oh, and by the way, you don't "learn" anything in a 100 level course. 100-level courses are introductions - surveys at best. I certainly hope you wouldn't say you "learned American History" or "learned German" after taking 3 goddam credit hours in it.
 
2012-07-30 10:37:56 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


The last time I attempted to learn pre-calc I became suicidal. Fail test --> walk out of classroom --> look down at parking lot below me --> have sudden, overwhelming impulse to throw myself off the balcony. Fun fun!
 
2012-07-30 10:39:34 PM  

hitlersbrain: Skirl Hutsenreiter: hitlersbrain: Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.

I know, we can just go back to describing everything with words rather than symbols, because that wasn't clunky at all.

How many people read short hand? If they did would they be smarter? How many people would be illiterate if shorthand was the only way to read or write?

It's the computer age, ditch the farking chalk and arcane symbols so people with a life can understand WTF you are doing.


This is like saying that musicians should stop using musical notation in scores, but rather teach parts entirely by copying performances by ear just because you never learned to read music. I guarantee, if you'd ever tried reading pre-symbol mathematical treatises, you'd thank the heavens they came up with a better way.
 
2012-07-30 10:40:23 PM  

namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.


Somebody needs to take a communications class, to better hone his interpersonal "skillz."
 
2012-07-30 10:43:42 PM  

colonel0sanders: I totally disagree with this. I think high school teachers should have at minimum a bachelor's degree in Math, not some baloney education degree. The PRAXIS test for mathematics content should be a breeze. I thought it was incredibly easy, but I got a BS in math. The fact that people had to study for and struggled to pass that test, and go on to become math teachers, frightens the hell out of me.

You can't effectively teach mathematics unless you UNDERSTAND it.



/Went on to get a master's in math
//Teach at a community college


I should have been more clear, I do not advocate for people who are terrible at math to teach it.

I advocate that people who are good at math but don't *love* it should be teaching math. I object to the programs which automatically try to shunt surplus math majors into teaching degrees if they dislike accounting and cant compete in academia. I don't think that a love of math automatically makes someone a good teacher of it. Plenty of Engineers, scientists, and carpenters use math all the time without viewing it as anything other than a tool, and get into the "real world" and discover they are ill-suited for their jobs.

This is not to say that someone who loves math is necessarily a bad teacher... but if someone loved learning something that was taught in a way that failed 80% of their peers, going on to teach it the same will just continue a cycle of bad teaching.
 
2012-07-30 10:45:33 PM  

Alonjar: /Disclaimer: ive always been a computer nerd, from the first time i touched one in elementary school


Why were you touching a computer nerd?
 
2012-07-30 10:46:00 PM  
I was disastrously shiatty at algebra in high school. I felt bad back then and I still do to this day.

Will I have to grab the basic algebra book I ganked out of local college a few years ago,
and re-teach myself each blasted...property a whole month at a time, as if I were
totally witless and didn't even understand what a stinking integer was?

Dear gods isn't there an easier way to learn it!?
 
2012-07-30 10:51:22 PM  

Isildur: When it comes to math, people often make the mistake of thinking about education in terms of "How many of these kids will actually need this?" What such a question entirely misses is that failing to teach a kid something as scientifically fundamental as algebra, would close off entire career avenues to her or him.


This bears repeating. The author's plan would put many more talented high-school freshmen on a math track that would take them away from being to go into math, natural science, engineering, or economics later on, and I think that's too early for that.
 
2012-07-30 10:52:42 PM  

Skirl Hutsenreiter: FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.



Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics

Not true in experimental physics either. Without some creative thinking you'd never figure out why your experiment wasn't working. The problem is that these non-scientists think it's all follow the recipe experiments like in high school science.


I'd argue that "outside the box" thinking is critical for the hard sciences for THIS reason and many others.

To those who argue about whether Math majors should teach math, my experience is that my worst math teachers were those for whom math came easily. The best ones had to work at it and had some understanding of different learning styles.

My brother is one of those for whom math is easy, and always has been. It was so obvious to him; that made it hard for him to understand how students could struggle with problems/proofs that he found so simple.
 
2012-07-30 10:52:43 PM  

Jim_Callahan: FloydA: Maybe you could encourage the under-performing students by throwing acid at those who fail. After all, if it's good enough for women in politics, it's good enough for students, right?

Nothing to say on this topic, eh? Did it occur to you that maybe the best plan in that case might be not to post anything? I know that's not algebra as such but there's some logic involved, at least.


Has it occurred to you that maybe when you said that we should "hurl some acid" at people,and that it was "just a colloquialism," someone might have taken offense at that, for some reason?

Has it ever occurred to you that saying that your your political opponents deserve incredibly horrible torture and permanent disfiguration might cause offense?

Did it ever occur to you, even once, that saying "Let's hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won't abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."
~Jay Townsend

might not be acceptable political speech?

Or are you going to stick with the "he didn't really mean it" bullshiat and continue to defend acid attacks?

This is really a test of your character here. If you continue to say that it's acceptable for people to advocate "hurling acid at those female democratic senators," then you are beneath contempt.

You made it very clear that you think advocating throwing acid at your political opponents is just fine because, in your opinion, it's just "idiomatic phraseology not being meant to be taken literally."

I've made my opinion clear, that this type of threat is beyond the pale of acceptable political speech.

Until you say "Oh, yeah, that is over the line," I have to assume that you meant what you said.

So, are you willing to condemn acid attacks on your political opponents, or do you still think it's just an "idiomatic phraseology not being meant to be taken literally"?

I'm not going to let this go. In your opinion, is it, or is it not, acceptable to advocate throwing acid at people?
 
2012-07-30 10:57:34 PM  
Hispanics have lower IQ's. That's why the standards are lower. More hispanics, the lower the standards to appear more 'equal'. Now go home and get some sleep, nerds!
 
2012-07-30 10:58:17 PM  
As an archeologist... I had to do algebra. How many holes, how many transects on this field. It's got a slope, how many holes do I add as I go along to get the required minimum coverage?

As a programmer & database manager... Oh, you bet I use math.

As a Voter... If I didn't understand math I might end up voting for someone who has policies that are completely at odds with my interests and beliefs.
 
2012-07-30 11:02:53 PM  

EvilEgg: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?


Yes, actually. I won a bar bet with a guy who wouldn't believe Stephen Crane was not a Civil War veteran. I only knew that because I wrote a book report on The Red Badge of Courage in 4th grade. Clearly, that justifies the entire liberal arts department at every school in America.
 
2012-07-30 11:09:13 PM  
Oh gods...I just remembered I have an Asimov book ON ALGEBRA

danmarce 2012-07-30 06:43:09 PM

I will just leave this here:

The Feeling Of Power by Isaac Asimov

\Dude was right in sooooo many ways.


THANK YOU!!!!
 
2012-07-30 11:09:39 PM  

All_Farked_Up: Problem with american schools? Lack of 2 parents and or lack of involvement.


If parents have to spend hours every night teaching their children they may as well home school. If teachers expect parents to do their jobs for them they should not be paid. I never had a job where someone did my work for me.
 
2012-07-30 11:10:54 PM  

yingtong: Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).


Sigh... way to take a simplistic macro concept and beat it to death on a micro scale. Your statement is invalid if for no other reason than you would need a standard definition of "language" in this context, which isnt going to happen because we're discussing something abstract. Its nice that you are obviously educated, but making such statements makes you come off as a dick who sucks at communication.

/Why yes, astrophysics is a passion of mine, why do you ask?
 
2012-07-30 11:12:11 PM  
That would be TWO much math, moran.
 
2012-07-30 11:12:20 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:

Based on your profile, I was expecting some sort of pointed sexist attack I wasn't seeing. Now I'm just disappointed, because you are actually just not very good at this. Don't worry, practice makes perfect!

You are a particular breed of ignoramus. No, really -look in the mirror and say it: "Ignoramus". Let it dance on your mouth as you sound out each syllable. The word suits you and this is why:

You base your assumptions about the validity of what one is saying based upon what you know about them -not on the validity of what they are saying.

Since we are talking about math: if someone online says that 2+2 =4 then the validity of that statement is only verified if you can look at their profile. Since my profile is entirely fake -you make assumptions about what I'm supposed to say based on that.

Does it shock you that I am not a feathered dinosaur wearing a hat and holding a cane? -Ignoramus, you should change your profile name.


Yes, yes, you are very clever. You had me completely fooled. Go get yourself a cookie.

/Ignoramus is a splendid fark handle. I vaguely remember him being around when I joined Fark, actually. guess we lost him to reddit, and in poor grace too.
//shameful.
 
2012-07-30 11:12:57 PM  

Gough: Skirl Hutsenreiter: FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.



Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics

Not true in experimental physics either. Without some creative thinking you'd never figure out why your experiment wasn't working. The problem is that these non-scientists think it's all follow the recipe experiments like in high school science.

I'd argue that "outside the box" thinking is critical for the hard sciences for THIS reason and many others.

To those who argue about whether Math majors should teach math, my experience is that my worst math teachers were those for whom math came easily. The best ones had to work at it and had some understanding of different learning styles.

My brother is one of those for whom math is easy, and always has been. It was so obvious to him; that made it hard for him to understand how students could struggle with problems/proofs that he found so simple.


Totally agree with the last statement. I'm one of the dumber math grad students in my department and it takes me forever to learn anything new compared to others in my year. For this reason I think I'm probably the best teacher of the bunch, though, for what that's worth.

And for those of you who think that "thinking outside the box" doesn't apply to pure mathematics, tell that to Grothendieck, who essentially combined number theory, geometry, topology while simultaneously developing category theory. The correct definition of a scheme was just one of the hugely creative and important ideas of mathematics in the last century that he contributed. He's like the Einstein of mathematics of the 20th century.
 
2012-07-30 11:23:12 PM  

Babwa Wawa: If you really think that a person needs calculus before being merely introduced to the concepts and some of the math associated with probability and statistics, then you are part of the problem.


How do you teach about the normal distribution without algebra? Standard deviation? Even the ground-level stuff like probability distributions require the concept of area under a curve, which you really need calc to deal with properly.


Babwa Wawa: Oh, and by the way, you don't "learn" anything in a 100 level course. 100-level courses are introductions - surveys at best.


So let's water down the curriculum even more?
 
2012-07-30 11:25:51 PM  

yingtong: Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).


Godel's Incompleteness Theorem states that in any sufficiently advanced axiomatic system, there will be truths that are unprovable and falsehoods that are provable. That doesn't mean that "math isn't the language of the Universe". That's like saying because it's impossible to determine if a given C program will ever halt, C isn't a programming language. It is entirely possible that, while mathematics is an incomplete system, the Universe itself is describable using math from the consistent subset. What's more likely, in my opinion, is that if we do end up with a theory of everything (which I believe we will), we won't be able to be absolutely sure that it is a theory of everything.
 
2012-07-30 11:28:48 PM  

bcbwilla: But don't you guys get it! Algebra is hard! If we stops teaching the hard math then no one has to worry about learning anymore of that hard math stuff anymore and the problem goes away *poof* problem solved OKAY GUYS.


...but then we'll be dead last in the world in math, and that means....

MOAR STANDARDIZED TESTING!!!
 
2012-07-30 11:31:28 PM  
I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.
 
2012-07-30 11:32:19 PM  

Kittypie070: I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.


I've had square pie.
 
Ehh
2012-07-30 11:32:47 PM  
As a math-challenged former high school English teacher, it is with authority that I say that is the stupidest thing I've heard in many many years. Math is beautiful. Math teaches you how to think. Math is the universal language. The more you learn, the better.
 
2012-07-30 11:34:44 PM  

Russky:
I'm not ignoring it at all, the point being there is a higher demand right now for scientific degrees but people aren't taking those.


Perhaps if there were, I dunno, JOBS at the other end of all the bullsh*ttery that one needs to go through to get the degree perhaps more students might take the courses. If there were as much "demand" as some people are whining about (which is just more bullsh*ttery so they can H1-B and outsource this country to death) then unemployment rates in STEM-related careers would be virtually ZERO, and we know that's not happening.

I just completed my degree, and in those years I took pre-algebra (hadn't seen a classroom for over 15 years, needed the update), algebra, macroeconomics, statistics and logic... all passed with A's... and I was a Graphic Design major. Took the logic course because I liked it.
If I'm going to bust my ass to be good at something, I'm going to do it for one of three reasons: 1. I like doing it, 2. I'm getting paid phat cheddar for doing it, or 3. a combination of 1 and 2. I'm not going to do it because someone "demands" I do it, I'm going to do it for my own selfish reasons and no others.

We need to make sure there are jobs for the people we are encouraging to take these courses, and they should pay enough to be worth the effort.
 
2012-07-30 11:39:10 PM  

buckler: Kittypie070: I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.

I've had square pie.


You mean cobbler?
 
2012-07-30 11:52:58 PM  
Or, as they say in the UK, "too many maths."
 
BBH
2012-07-30 11:56:00 PM  
Why is it okay for people to be illiterate using numbers, but it is inexcusible to be illiterate with words?
 
2012-07-31 12:03:07 AM  

buckler: PlatypusPuke: I think it's all in how you teach a subject.

I (optimistically) believe that anyone can understand anything if whatever's being taught can be done so in a way that relates to something that the student already understands.

Now that I am studying mathematics for its own sake, I can offer one thing that would've helped me immensely as a youngster when it came to learning math.

All those stupid, pointless, boring "exercises?" I could not understand why I'd ever use quadratic equations in life as a youngster, and that's what I thought the exercises were for. What would've helped me out is if someone had told me that doing those exercises is a lot like practicing a musical instrument, or practicing using a shop tool. Doing mathematical exercises is all about getting used to the "feel" of a certain tool. Imagine using a chiseling tool for whittling on some wood. Each time you do that, your goal isn't to carve out David. It's to get used to how the tool feels in your hand, how the wood responds to different pressures and angles, etc. Over time, you can sort of mindlessly do it, much like driving a stick shift. You do it without even thinking about it. The point isn't getting good at calculus or trig and applying it later on to a specific thing, per se, it's all about becoming comfortable with using the various tools. Like a craftsman.

Mathematical exercises are the EXACT same thing in my mind: to get used to handing and wielding the tool effectively, not grinding mindlessly on some super-abstract idea that has zero appreciable impact on your life. It's not so much the ends as it is understanding the means and getting good with manipulating the tool itself. And of all the tools available to us on this planet, none is more pervasive or useful as mathematics.

I gently urge anyone out there who believes themselves (as I once was) to be "not a math person," to give the subject another chance. The hardest part about math is finding a learning resou ...


In fourth grade, my teacher would call on us, we would stand up and he would ask a math question and we'd sit down. I didn't know the answer once so I was made to stand there like an idiot guessing while the teacher egged the entire class on to point and laugh at my dumb ass. I'll never forget it.

Needless to say, that hamstrung my math studies throughout my entire school years. For all I know, I could've been a rocket scientist, but we'll never know now, will we Mr. Hakeman?

Asshole.
 
2012-07-31 12:03:17 AM  

namatad: I hope that mathematics departments can also create courses in the history and philosophy of their discipline, as well as its applications in early cultures. Why not mathematics in art and music - even poetry

no
there is no need to teach ANY of these useless topics. history? worthless. science? useless. philosophy is for morons. literature, writing, reading? only librarians would need these useless skillz.

school should require only recess, lunch, sex, internet stuff and how to get cheat codes for video games.

/LOLOLOLOL I love when morons think that the topics that they hate are worthless


I guarantee the students would get more life use out of the classes you suggest than philosophy and literature.

not saying those are useless, just not useful. sex and internet stuff... useful. If in your everyday life you are referencing to Descartes or Kant to aide in your decision making process, you are living in a different world than I am.
 
2012-07-31 12:07:19 AM  

PlatypusPuke: In fourth grade, my teacher would call on us, we would stand up and he would ask a math question and we'd sit down. I didn't know the answer once so I was made to stand there like an idiot guessing while the teacher egged the entire class on to point and laugh at my dumb ass. I'll never forget it.

Needless to say, that hamstrung my math studies throughout my entire school years. For all I know, I could've been a rocket scientist, but we'll never know now, will we Mr. Hakeman?

Asshole.


I had a teacher like that for Algebra II. She also was the kind of teacher that said things like "here's the formula for foo, memorize it" without explaining why it worked.

I was saved the next year by my calculus teacher, Mr. Ryan. He explained why the formulas worked, what the reasoning was behind limits and derivatives, and took the time to actually explain things. He even pulled me out of his regular class and created an unofficial class with me and two other guys that ended up getting to work on Calculus II stuff. He was a fantastic teacher.

(Sad note, he was run out of town for having the audacity to marry a black woman. I'm not kidding, his teaching contract was not renewed and it was an open secret as to why. I hated that little town.)
 
2012-07-31 12:22:46 AM  
Kittypie070 Oh gods...I just remembered I have an Asimov book ON ALGEBRA

Every day I offer up thanks to the Comrades at Tyuratam for the FUD engendered in the U.S. by their spinning up their little Sputnik. Elementary school math/science curriculum was pushed hard. All students who exhibited interest & proficiency were tracked into voluntary/advanced summer school. The book used during the first summer was Asimov's Realm of Numbers. Got his Understanding Physics when I was 11.

Another book that might be of some utility (in the more general sense): G. Polya, How To Solve It.
 
2012-07-31 12:23:31 AM  
Because People in power are Stupid
Generally one doesn't just "know math" which is what lazy American students seem to believe. It comes from drilling and doing work.


Looking back at my school days, I've come to the conclusion that my least popular teacher was probably one of my best; I had him in math for my three final years and some years earlier in math and physics.

CSB:
Besides being disliked for his personality and crazy views, part of your grade in his classes depended on how well you were able to recite and explain(!) the content of the last lesson (without your notes, of course):
He would pick some student at random, grade the summary of the previous lesson and announce and write down the grade since those lesson summaries would be somewhat important for your final grade.
If you couldn't deliver or didn't do well enough, you got a bad grade and a pretty good chance to be "randomly" selected again soon (so that failing didn't mean you were of the hook for the rest of the semester) and then someone else would have to do the summary; any gaps, ambiguities, errors or missed details were either corrected by the teacher or given as a question to someone else.

In short, you had to go into _every_ lesson prepared for an oral exam.
And you couldn't just say "fark this, next class might be a completely different topic" if you didn't understand something that day.
It sucked big time; I usually spent part of breakfast reading my math notes instead of the morning paper or, if his class was later in the day, part of recess going over the notes.
But holy fark did this work.

His other unpopular measure was giving us one "final exam problem" (final exam = written test where you have 5 hours for 3 problems, i.e. solving a single one was supposed to take 1-2 hours) as part of our homework each week, usually over the weekend.
And to repeat: holy f*ck, did this work.

When our final exams came around, we had several days off from school to prepare.
I think you got 2 or 3 days as preparation between your two final "Leistungskurs" (literally: "performance course"; think "major" or a mixture of advanced placement and honors course)
I spent two days preparing for the exam in one "major" (chemistry)..
.. while my preparation for the other (math) consisted of hanging out with a girlfriend whose exams were already over (different "majors"=different days) and 20 minutes of checking that I still had the most important theorems memorized correctly.
With the constant repetition and solving one problem of final exam caliber each week for a year, there was only shiat that you knew you could do and shiat you simply couldn't prepare for (15% of the exam was to solve a kind of problem completely new to you, e.g. having to find a proof for a theorem that you've never heard before)
 
2012-07-31 12:32:12 AM  
I've got one word for this stupid author: Pot Odds.
 
2012-07-31 12:36:39 AM  
We need more math, not less. Frankly, we need more of everything.
Kids are dumb as a bag of sand today. Teaching them less isn't the answer.

As for "never use it", STFU. You use it more than you realize.
Even if you don't for some reason, then others do.
You have no way of knowing what a person will or will not need in their life.

We're on the road to living out "Marching Morons", and it scares me. I don't want to change jobs ever few years.
 
2012-07-31 12:38:39 AM  

Stoj: I've got one word for this stupid author: Pot Odds.


Shut up about those. Everyone else who knows about them cuts down my EV. Remember, kids, ANY TWO CARDS can win! Don't fold that 83o, because the flop could come up 8-8-3!
 
2012-07-31 12:38:43 AM  

Kimothy: The problem is, the author's argument can be applied to lots of subjects. People don't need history everyday, either, but that doesn't mean those subjects aren't valuable.


I've actually proposed a 'large' change in what we teach in schools. To put it bluntly, we shouldn't be trying to prepare every student to be a college professer. As it says in the article, you don't need calculus to be a doctor; though I'll point out that I viewed the academic portion of the training for my job/career field more as an extended aptitude test than it actually teaching me anything useful in my job.

What do we teach instead? Well, for one would be HOW to learn. 2nd would be ensuring that a HS graduate has a solid background in 'practical skills'. He or she should be able to balance a checkbook, plan a healthy meal, make a valid determination in a simple liability matter, make a personal budget, understand the common terms of contracts like renting or buying a house, the differences between two loans of different terms, interest rates, etc... They should have a grounding in US and world history - not worrying about dates and places perhaps so much as the 'flow of history'. When President Grant was elected is less important than knowing he came after Lincoln and Johnson. Even that's unimportant compared to understanding the civil war and it's effects. You throw places and dates in there to help kids remember the events, the course, not as something to remember itself. At some point you spend less time on the revolutionary & civil wars, and more on Gandi's movement in India, colonialism, the french revolution, etc...

Basically the same thing as a lot of other people here are saying - make it practical. Ground it in real world problems kids can see themselves doing. Like the 'laying tile' scenario - If you're in a rich district, have the kids 'check the contractor's bid'. If they're in a middle class area, have them do it themselves. Poor area, have them be the contractor. ;)
 
2012-07