Thursday, August 02, 2012

Don't Abandon The Teaching Of Algebra

While I'm not tutoring anymore, I still find the topic of education - especially Math education - to be quite fascinating. When I saw a New York Times piece entitled "Is Algebra Necessary?", I immediately disagreed with several of the points in it. Fortunately, others more invested in the question have provided detailed responses to it, such as this one.

A key sentence in that preceding response, I think, is:

"Few pre-college math teachers majored or even minored in math, and until more teachers do, improvements will be hard to come by."

That's something I've heard, again and again, from students I've tutored. It's not at all uncommon for a high school Calculus or Functions teacher to rely on students in the class to explain the solutions to particularly tough questions... raising the question, "Did the teacher even understand the solution himself/herself?" It seems to be extremely rare for Math geeks from high school to end up as teachers, since they more commonly go into Engineering, Computer Science or related technical fields. And yet, logically, you want someone very comfortable with high school Math to be teaching it, don't you?

Until that disconnect is fixed, we can expect more and more young people to follow Barbie's example, and declare resignedly that "Math is hard."

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