You know, the Czar has said for years that you will likely go your entire life without ever encountering a legitimately natural-forming quadratic equation. But to suggest that algebra itself is a time-wasting distraction is losing the baby with the bathwater.
Even so, New York Timess Andrew Hacker seems to be arguing exactly this: that perhaps there is too much emphasis placed on learning algebra, and thats why math scores are so low.
Let us see: math scores are pathetically low in the US compared to other countries despite outrageous amounts of spending per student. The cause? Perhaps the math is too hard.
Nope, not buying it. And Hacker agrees that math is important; after all, consider this powerful statement:
I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers.
Yeah, those are two domains largely populated by mathematicians.
Curiously, some of Hackers logic works in other categories. For example, he suggests that dollars would be better spent on more practical math. This is the same logic (and prudent logic) that the military used in eliminating bayonet trainingwe spend too much time teaching soldiers and Marine a fighting system that is nearly unheard of today. Got it.
But this analogy assumes that algebra is not useful; in most respects, all math is an algebraic expression. When you ask a third grader what three times three is, you really are asking 3 * 3 = x; solve for x. The ability to problem solve like this is what leads people to solve simple problems that also solve for x, such as how many hours do I need to work to pay for x? If I refinance my mortage tomorrow, the amount of money I could save in five years is x. If my gas mileage is 22 mpg, how many miles do I have left on a half-tank of gas? This is all algebra, and real peoplenot just writers and social scientistsuse it every day.
To forego teaching it because it hurts whites and minorities equally is insane. If kids are falling behind nationally, and algebra hasnt changed in say 1100 years, then perhaps the problem is with the educational delivery. Maybe we arent teaching properly, with our emphasis on standardized fill-in-the-blank testing and multicultural presentations and how does x even feel about being unknown.
You would think a social scientist could do the math on that.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.