If you haven’t followed the latest flap over whether Algebra has value for our Nation’s school-age kids, it was started by Andrew Hacker and plays out in recent editions of the NY Times. As a school-age student I had a serious phobia around anything to do with Mathematics. Nevertheless, we cannot be short-sighted on the matter. When in doubt on all our serious problems, challenges, and debates on K-12 schooling, it is often best to ask the kids. High schooler Harriet Small from Cambridge, MA provides a most clear perspective and provides great support for why we must offer and better excel at teaching and learning Algebra:
Reprint is as follows:
To the Editor:
Andrew Hacker recommends removing mandated math courses, including basic algebra, from the schedules of high school and college students. As a high school student, I find his argument completely unfounded.
Mathematics is the most relevant of subjects. In algebra, we learn to organize, to extrapolate, to go step by step, to analyze data. While the child who goes on to become an artist may never need the quadratic formula, he can use the logical reasoning and application skills developed in high-level math classes to make informed decisions as a modern global citizen.
I am appalled that an education professional could suggest depriving American students of the benefits of a math education. If so many students are “struggling with algebra,” we should examine the methods being used to teach it instead of taking it off the syllabus.
Cambridge, Mass., July 29, 2012
Thank you Harriet!