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(The New York Times)   The problem with American schools is that they teach too much math   (nytimes.com) divider line 162
    More: Stupid, Americans, Appalachian State University, Advanced Placement, university system, City University London, trigonometry, School of Medicine, high schools  
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18709 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:44 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2012-07-30 03:06:17 PM
21 votes:
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 03:54:42 PM
12 votes:
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 04:18:41 PM
10 votes:

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 04:10:53 PM
10 votes:

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 03:35:53 PM
10 votes:

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 03:26:13 PM
9 votes:
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 03:58:40 PM
8 votes:
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 03:20:12 PM
8 votes:

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 03:17:59 PM
8 votes:
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 03:03:06 PM
7 votes:
I told that teacher lady the only numbers I need to know are U, S and A.
2012-07-30 04:25:49 PM
6 votes:
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 05:57:27 PM
5 votes:
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 04:29:01 PM
5 votes:

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 03:54:47 PM
5 votes:

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 05:53:18 PM
4 votes:
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 05:51:40 PM
4 votes:
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?
TWX
2012-07-30 05:45:56 PM
4 votes:
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 04:52:14 PM
4 votes:
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 03:56:04 PM
4 votes:

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 03:04:26 PM
4 votes:
You misspelled meth
2012-07-30 05:05:52 PM
3 votes:
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 05:03:45 PM
3 votes:
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 04:59:51 PM
3 votes:
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 04:42:45 PM
3 votes:
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 04:41:01 PM
3 votes:

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 04:29:51 PM
3 votes:

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 11:25:51 PM
2 votes:

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 09:47:54 PM
2 votes:

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 09:42:19 PM
2 votes:
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 08:54:45 PM
2 votes:
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 07:25:58 PM
2 votes:
"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 07:19:10 PM
2 votes:
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 07:08:29 PM
2 votes:

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 06:33:22 PM
2 votes:
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 06:20:08 PM
2 votes:

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 06:18:06 PM
2 votes:

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 06:07:05 PM
2 votes:

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 05:57:41 PM
2 votes:

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 05:49:40 PM
2 votes:

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 05:25:55 PM
2 votes:
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 05:20:14 PM
2 votes:

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 05:18:35 PM
2 votes:

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 05:08:16 PM
2 votes:
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 05:01:39 PM
2 votes:

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 04:58:00 PM
2 votes:
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 04:57:03 PM
2 votes:
Problem with american schools? Lack of 2 parents and or lack of involvement.
2012-07-30 04:54:50 PM
2 votes:
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 04:53:46 PM
2 votes:
You can't get rid of algebra. You need it to count to potato.
2012-07-30 04:52:49 PM
2 votes:

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 04:50:56 PM
2 votes:

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 04:50:47 PM
2 votes:

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 04:29:52 PM
2 votes:

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 03:15:49 PM
2 votes:
I was told there would be no approved links about this subject
2012-07-30 03:06:53 PM
2 votes:
They're, not their. Damn.
2012-07-31 09:23:49 PM
1 votes:
Not only did you just do algebra but also error analysis to justify easier algebra.
2012-07-31 07:29:45 PM
1 votes:

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.


Proving theorems is not just there to help you understand calculus. Mathematical reasoning is useful for other things. Physics, or computer science. Not to mention, of course, other fields of math besides algebra or calc. To say that very few people use mathematical reasoning after graduating would be wrong. To say that "No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares" why is wrong. So, so wrong. Almost dirty.
2012-07-31 12:57:44 PM
1 votes:

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.


---
Ballet is what made me get into physics and kinesiology. Body mechanics is math heavy. Even to get a good personal trainer certification, you have to get through all of the metabolic calculations (nothing but algebra). While you laugh at my dance major, keep in mind that right out of college I was making $50 an hour teaching ballet. I use my ballet classes as a medium to teach kids physics and to generate interest in science. I have made girls and boys who thought they were "dumb" turn into scientists or at the very least show interest in these subjects in school. I am currently back in school working towards getting into a doctor of physical therapy program. The psychotically strict work ethic and discipline that dance taught me has been useful in every aspect of my life.

The stagehand skills I learned as a dance major landed me a job in audio broadcast engineering. Now, I work in radio and get to learn how to fix transmitters. I also mix concerts and get to work with famous musicians.

On the side, I get stagehand gigs. While the pay is not astronomically high, getting $17-$24 an hour as a part time job sure as hell beats min wage at McDonald's. Loading in equipment for a rock legend beats flipping burgers or folding sweaters at the Gap any day.

I would not have had these opportunities if I had not majored in dance.

Algebra needs to stay in schools. This article made me feel like a math genius. Are people really failing out of school because they can't do algebra (says the fine arts/dance major)?
2012-07-31 12:42:56 PM
1 votes:

umad: YouBWrong: Requiring high school students to learn algebra while cutting funding for arts, and foreign language studies implies that algebra is somehow universally useful. It is not.

But art is? LOL. Math is waaaaay more useful.


Both are universally useful, and no child--none--should grow to adulthood without at least basic exposure to both.

There was once a time when people of means took pride in being learned and proficient in as many different disciplines as possible. For one thing, exploring multiple disciplines helps one see the ways that they overlap. It helps them conceive novel solutions to difficult problems that a complete specialist would never think of developing. Now that far more people have this opportunity than before, we seek to neuter it.

FMC.
2012-07-31 11:13:26 AM
1 votes:

Quex: Algebra? Yes. Daily life.

Calculus? Yes. Any career in the sciences or with numbers.

Trigonometry? Well... actually, I can see where this should be a specialty class. I mean, it's not so much that it's HARD, it just doesn't have much application unless you're going into drafting or astronomy.


Trigonometry is a necessary prerequisite for calculus. How can you integrate 1/sqrt(1-x^2) if you don't know any trigonometry?

Trig is also hugely relevant to complex arithmetic, and signal processing. JPEG images are based on the discrete cosine transform, which like the Fourier transform decomposes a signal into a set of trigonometric functions.

/So that means you actually fap to trigonometry.
2012-07-31 10:45:29 AM
1 votes:

YouBWrong: The author has a point. Math is not for everyone.


Neither is literature, science, history, music, art or foreign languages.

For that matter, neither is graduation.

However, it is reasonable to require high school graduates to have a little bit of all of these subjects, and to handle the core subjects with at least a "high school" level of competence. And "high school" algebra is actually pretty basic: many kids cover it in 8th grade, and spend high school taking trig, calc, etc.

The argument that only a tiny handful of people need higher math is silly: only a tiny handful of people need to know Shakespeare for their jobs, and only a tiny handful of people need to know the details of the Louisiana Purchase. It's easy to argue against anything taught in school using this reasoning, and hence one should question the reasoning.
2012-07-31 10:01:10 AM
1 votes:

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).


If you want to be the person who carries the nine over to the next column on a scrap of paper, sure. But using simple algegra, you can get the exact answer in your head:

(3.00 x 3) - (0.01 x 3) = 9.00 - 0.03 = 8.97

If you don't want to be constantly punching a calculator or scratching a pad while shopping, algebra can be very handy.
2012-07-31 09:43:25 AM
1 votes:

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.


John Allen Paulos, who wrote the very insightful Innumeracy (and the funny and also insightful Humor and Mathematics) is a math teacher by vocation. In the first book, he explained how he felt that kids found math too abstract, because it's taught that way, so they don't understand or appreciate how it can be useful and interesting. To solve this, he routinely took his students on math 'field trips' around the school, where he'd have them directly apply math to solve real-life questions, such as, "How many bricks are on this face of the wall?" He wouldn't tell them the answers or how to solve the problems, but knew that someone with some algebra knowledge would instinctively set to an algebraic solution rather than try to just count all the damn bricks. He might follow up with, "How much money did the school department spend on just those bricks, if a brick weighs x and costs y per pound?" Over time, these exercises build up in kids a solid grasp of what math is in the adult world, how it's used everyday, and why it's useful to know.
2012-07-31 08:15:31 AM
1 votes:

doglover: 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.


Again, my assumption was that you were smart enough to remember what is germane to the discussion. The subject is whether or not America should continue teaching mathematics and not English as a second language and people from foreign countries that are "scared" to learn English.

My assertion is that people who are "phobic" about learning math don't belong in regular classes. They should go to "special" classes and learn with the developmentally disabled or whoever else rightfully belongs there. "Math phobia" is a refuge for people who are too lazy to make an effort and are looking for excuses for their own behavior.

It is not an excuse to remove Algebra altogether from American curriculum as the article is attesting.
2012-07-31 03:02:36 AM
1 votes:
It's true that students in Finland, South Korea and Canada score better on mathematics tests. But it's their perseverance, not their classroom algebra, that fits them for demanding jobs.

...so, we should stop asking students to persevere?
2012-07-31 02:04:35 AM
1 votes:
The Voice of Doom: 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)


That's the way exams should be. Difficult enough that there's no way you can cram and with something on it that you haven't seen before that is based on the same principles as what you've been doing.

You can't do Multivariable Calculus if you don't know Calculus. You can't possibly do Calculus if you don't know Algebra. You can't do Algebra if you don't know basic math and order of operations. Passing the test in a math class is pointless if you don't actually understand the material. You'll just fail when you attempt to apply the next level of learning on top of it.

I think that's why the US is so poor at math. People (including educators) don't understand that you can't just study for the test. You actually have to learn it as you go along.
2012-07-31 12:40:57 AM
1 votes:
Also, this is a good thread to post a link to the best pop science article I've ever read on large numbers: Who Can Name the Bigger Number?
2012-07-30 11:34:44 PM
1 votes:

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 11:23:12 PM
1 votes:

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 11:09:39 PM
1 votes:

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 10:58:17 PM
1 votes:
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 10:52:43 PM
1 votes:

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 10:52:42 PM
1 votes:

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 10:51:22 PM
1 votes:

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 10:23:22 PM
1 votes:
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 10:04:10 PM
1 votes:
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 09:58:14 PM
1 votes:

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 09:35:02 PM
1 votes:

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 09:30:01 PM
1 votes:
25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

static.guim.co.uk
2012-07-30 09:27:20 PM
1 votes:
Wow, what a dumbass. If you aren't capable of doing simple algebra, your "political opinion" and "social analysis" is worthless.
2012-07-30 09:22:52 PM
1 votes:

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 09:13:04 PM
1 votes:

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 09:12:17 PM
1 votes:

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 08:24:17 PM
1 votes:

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 08:23:37 PM
1 votes:

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 08:21:13 PM
1 votes:

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 08:13:06 PM
1 votes:

Brontes: dimensional analysis


DA is the most useful method of problem solving I've ever learned.
2012-07-30 08:13:05 PM
1 votes:

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 08:11:53 PM
1 votes:
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 08:11:21 PM
1 votes:

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 08:09:44 PM
1 votes:
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 08:09:05 PM
1 votes:

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 07:58:24 PM
1 votes:

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 07:24:30 PM
1 votes:
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 07:15:58 PM
1 votes:
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 07:15:40 PM
1 votes:
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 07:15:28 PM
1 votes:

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 07:11:12 PM
1 votes:
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 06:54:43 PM
1 votes:
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 06:50:37 PM
1 votes:
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 06:42:44 PM
1 votes:
img441.imageshack.us
2012-07-30 06:41:38 PM
1 votes:

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 06:36:53 PM
1 votes:
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 06:34:21 PM
1 votes:

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 06:27:04 PM
1 votes:

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 06:26:14 PM
1 votes:
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 06:18:53 PM
1 votes:

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 06:14:09 PM
1 votes:

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 06:13:18 PM
1 votes:
There are a number of draconian mathematical concepts that are taught for little reason.

Algebra is not one of these concepts.
2012-07-30 06:11:12 PM
1 votes:

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 06:09:36 PM
1 votes:

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 06:06:07 PM
1 votes:
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 06:05:54 PM
1 votes:
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 06:03:04 PM
1 votes:

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 06:02:42 PM
1 votes:

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 05:54:47 PM
1 votes:
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 05:54:00 PM
1 votes:

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 05:52:34 PM
1 votes:
How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?
2012-07-30 05:48:05 PM
1 votes:
i134.photobucket.com
2012-07-30 05:45:34 PM
1 votes:

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.
2012-07-30 05:42:40 PM
1 votes:

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 05:42:19 PM
1 votes:

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 05:42:03 PM
1 votes:
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 05:41:18 PM
1 votes:
Instead of math, they should teach Chinese. So at least you'll be able to understand your Overlords in 10 years.
2012-07-30 05:39:36 PM
1 votes:

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 05:39:34 PM
1 votes:
www.anonymouspundit.com
2012-07-30 05:33:39 PM
1 votes:
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 05:31:42 PM
1 votes:
2012-07-30 05:31:20 PM
1 votes:
"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 05:28:48 PM
1 votes:

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 05:28:26 PM
1 votes:

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 05:27:13 PM
1 votes:

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 05:26:47 PM
1 votes:
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 05:24:42 PM
1 votes:

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 05:23:53 PM
1 votes:

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 05:20:17 PM
1 votes:

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 05:19:35 PM
1 votes:
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 05:19:23 PM
1 votes:
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 05:18:36 PM
1 votes:

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 05:17:36 PM
1 votes:
i950.photobucket.com
2012-07-30 05:15:28 PM
1 votes:
School is obviously holding kids back. We should skip the whole thing.
2012-07-30 05:14:05 PM
1 votes:
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 05:11:24 PM
1 votes:
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 05:10:17 PM
1 votes:

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 05:08:58 PM
1 votes:

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 05:06:38 PM
1 votes:

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 05:05:09 PM
1 votes:
img189.imageshack.us
2012-07-30 05:04:36 PM
1 votes:

rockforever: Bring back shop


That. The combination of mechanics + craftsmanship + applied math + problem solving = good.
2012-07-30 05:04:31 PM
1 votes:
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 05:03:50 PM
1 votes:
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 05:00:59 PM
1 votes:

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 04:59:58 PM
1 votes:

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 04:59:11 PM
1 votes:

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 04:59:07 PM
1 votes:

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 04:52:49 PM
1 votes:
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 04:52:28 PM
1 votes:

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 04:50:18 PM
1 votes:
Better headline: "Yes."
2012-07-30 04:44:45 PM
1 votes:

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 04:14:53 PM
1 votes:

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 04:07:53 PM
1 votes:

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 03:45:57 PM
1 votes:
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 03:21:21 PM
1 votes:
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 03:12:03 PM
1 votes:
 
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