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I was thinking about a very bright friend of mine who could not grasp algebra no matter how hard she tried. It was so sad :(. She ended up dropping out, taking the proficiency exam and going to college early. Her lack of algebra hasn't affected her at all.

 

So my question is this: why REQUIRE algebra for all students in order to graduate high school?

 

My husband uses algebra daily in his job, so I do know that some people end up using it. I just don't see the need to require every.single.student to take it.

 

It makes more sense to require a really thorough, intensive consumer math course that covers credit, investing, mortgages, etc. That's information that everyone will end up using at some point.

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I only required it IF my child had a reason they needed to know it. For instance, my older son only learned SOME of it as he has never seen a reason to know it for anything. He is now 21 and still hasn't needed it in life.

 

My younger son is learning it because he needed it for life... he is going into the military and needs to know it to do well on his ASVAB test. Otherwise, he would not be required to take it.

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Strictly speaking, the only education you'll certainly "need" are three Rs, and you might as well organize your life (it's harder these days in the developed world, but in the past, you certainly could) not to need even those. Everything else - we can debate it.

 

But then that opens the question of the purpose of education in the first place, whether that scope is predominately utilitarian in nature ("learn what you will need"; "the school as a preparation for life", etc.) or, maybe, there is an inherent value in exposing students to a varity of academic disciplines, "growing" in multiple directions, so to speak, with the purpose of fostering different ways of thinking and communicating, with the purpose of attaining a minimal proficiency needed to understand those fields, as close as possible, "on their own terms"...

It also opens the question whether the school should be set up the way everyone succeeds at everything (and, actually, the question of whether it's possible to have a meaningful education even without an imperative of success in a subject - maybe the point is in approaching, or even considering, things close to their own mindset, even if it doesn't come naturally and doesn't end up well?), or there is an inherent value even in being exposed to those things if it's hard and doesn't come easily to somebody...

It opens many questions of that kind. :)

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Strictly speaking, the only education you'll certainly "need" are three Rs, and you might as well organize your life (it's harder these days in the developed world, but in the past, you certainly could) not to need even those. Everything else - we can debate it.

 

But then that opens the question of the purpose of education in the first place, whether that scope is predominately utilitarian in nature ("learn what you will need"; "the school as a preparation for life", etc.) or, maybe, there is an inherent value in exposing students to a varity of academic disciplines, "growing" in multiple directions, so to speak, with the purpose of fostering different ways of thinking and communicating, with the purpose of attaining a minimal proficiency needed to understand those fields, as close as possible, "on their own terms"...

It also opens the question whether the school should be set up the way everyone succeeds at everything (and, actually, the question of whether it's possible to have a meaningful education even without an imperative of success in a subject - maybe the point is in approaching, or even considering, things close to their own mindset, even if it doesn't come naturally and doesn't end up well?), or there is an inherent value even in being exposed to those things if it's hard and doesn't come easily to somebody...

It opens many questions of that kind. :)

 

I just wanted to say I am glad you are back. (and :iagree:)

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How would you approach an otherwise bright student who just can't get it, even with solid effort, tutoring, etc.?

 

I'd backtrack some. I'd think there's something foundational that's missing.

Otherwise, I'd try things like using manipulatives (algebra tiles). Relate the algebra back to arithmetic (and see where there are gaps in arithmetic understanding).

 

If there are some specific topics your child isn't getting, post...there're often other ways of approaching the topic that you (or a text) may not mention.

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Strictly speaking, the only education you'll certainly "need" are three Rs, and you might as well organize your life (it's harder these days in the developed world, but in the past, you certainly could) not to need even those. Everything else - we can debate it.

 

But then that opens the question of the purpose of education in the first place, whether that scope is predominately utilitarian in nature ("learn what you will need"; "the school as a preparation for life", etc.) or, maybe, there is an inherent value in exposing students to a varity of academic disciplines, "growing" in multiple directions, so to speak, with the purpose of fostering different ways of thinking and communicating, with the purpose of attaining a minimal proficiency needed to understand those fields, as close as possible, "on their own terms"...

It also opens the question whether the school should be set up the way everyone succeeds at everything (and, actually, the question of whether it's possible to have a meaningful education even without an imperative of success in a subject - maybe the point is in approaching, or even considering, things close to their own mindset, even if it doesn't come naturally and doesn't end up well?), or there is an inherent value even in being exposed to those things if it's hard and doesn't come easily to somebody...

It opens many questions of that kind. :)

 

Oh gosh you are so wonderful Ester Maria.

:iagree:

 

On the other hand my son is asking me the same question every day (he is doing algebra at school) and telling me he isn't ever going to need this stuff. I see it is making him think hard though and that has got to be developing neuron connections in his brain. No other subject makes him *think* like Algebra does.

I have never used Algebra as an adult- maybe I have but not consciously- yet it is coming in great use helping my son with his homework. I can actually remember how to do it which I find incredible- so really, those neural pathways must have been formed in my brain as a teenager and they have never gone away, and I am quirkily pleased about that. There is benefit in learning for learning's sake. It makes further learning easier.

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How would you approach an otherwise bright student who just can't get it, even with solid effort, tutoring, etc.?

 

Different curriculum. Different teaching method. Different teachers.

 

Unfortunately, most tutors are going to use the same basic methods that the school uses because they are either working with the student's textbook or they were taught the same way.

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How would you approach an otherwise bright student who just can't get it, even with solid effort, tutoring, etc.?

 

Find the relevance to their life. For one of my students, everything is from the point of view of someone with an animal-based career. Wolf populations, Iditarod food allocations, genetic traits in certain species, etc. For another, it was all about video game physics - calculating how someone would fall if hit with a certain force. For another, it's all about fashion - permutations of wardrobe items, sales of custom-designed clothing, etc. Most recently, one student was really engaged when the problem was about selling a very large box of rubber chickens. Whatever works, you know?

 

And the key is to figure out what exactly the student doesn't get. Do they not understand how to manipulate certain kinds of equations, or do they not know how to translate word problems to equations, or do they have weak arithmetic skills, or whatever. Do they have problems with fundamental concepts or do they just drop a lot of negatives? Are they trying to avoid writing things down, and thus either losing track of things or getting mixed up because of sloppy work? (That one is a *huge* problem, and the smarter the kid the longer they can go without doing a lot of writing, so the harder it is when they finally get to that point where they *have* to.) Listen to their thought process, have them talk out loud about what they are considering/thinking, see where the problem lies.

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DH is an engineer and I'm a math teacher... oldest dd was one of those kids who just COULD. NOT. UNDERSTAND. ALGEBRA...

 

She took 4 years to 'complete' Algebra 1 and Algebra 2... it was like pulling teeth! She was 19 when we 'graduated' her from homeschool. She was 9th-10th grade level in most subjects.

 

DD is now 20 and is in her second year at our community college. She only needed one math class (Algebra 2 was the pre-requisite so I'm glad we skipped Geometry!)-- she made one of the HIGHEST grades in her class! In fact DD is an HONORS student at the CC... granted she is a photography major--but she aced her humanities--even Sociology!

 

We are encouraging her to take ONE MORE math class-- a business one that will also introduce basic accounting/bookkeeping.

 

My parents are/were GREAT people... my Dad was a band director--now he teaches history at a local university and runs homeschool bands all over the state of Oklahoma... he never had Algebra. My mother was an office manager--she never had Algebra (but she had EXCELLENT problem solving skills!).

 

Not everyone 'needs' Algebra and above-- but I'm not closing the door early-- and will insist that my other dds take as many math classes as they can before college (IF they decide to go to college--but that is another can of worms!).

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Algebra helps to teach you r brain to think logically.:001_smile:

 

I listened to some lectures by someone called "Hendrick?? " I cannot remember his name actually, but he runs some sort of classical high-school online and in class in America, Possibly based in California ? not sure , anyway. He doesn't believe in teaching algebra, he teaches Geometry instead, he said that one method was Greek, and the other Arabic.

He teaches it by having the students work through Euclid, in a class, problem by problem.

 

Wish I could remember his name, he ran a series of classical education lectures online, I lost his address when I changed Internet providers.

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