Should We Stop Teaching Algebra?

If teaching the skill of algebra is seen as unimportant, I have no problem with a proposal to remove it from the curriculum. But I don’t believe in scrapping a skill just because students are finding it difficult. What message does that send?

This week’s feature story in the NY Times Week In Review is one from Andrew Hacker, emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, who throws down the gauntlet that America should stop teaching kids algebra, “A typical American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.”

Now, Hacker explains, “I’m not talking about quantitative skills, critical for informed citizenship and personal finance, but a very different ballgame,” and lists extremely depressing statistics: “To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason… The City University of New York, where I have taught since 1971, found that 57 percent of its students didn’t pass its mandated algebra course. The depressing conclusion of a faculty report: ‘failing math at all levels affects retention more than any other academic factor.’

Click on the link to read Maths Teachers Who Can’t Pass Maths

Click on the link to read Children Exposed to Poor Maths Teachers

Click on the link to read Maths is Taught So Poorly

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