Algebra - Thumbs Up, Or Thumbs Down?

Discussion in 'Education & Learning' started by Neville Telen, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    The post "What Does Pi Mean To You?" got me to thinking about my gawd-awful High School days. I'm curious. How many here was forced to learn Algebra, Trig, Calculus, etc., to get a HS diploma....and actually found a use for this stuff in their job or homelife?
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I have. I had trouble understanding it in high school, although I managed to get Bs in algebra. More than a dozen years later, when I was teaching drug calculations to my paramedic students, I realized that the math involved could be more easily solved through algebra. As a paramedic, however, although we needed to be able to solve drug calculation problems in order to be licensed or to renew our licenses, there were few calculations involved, as our protocols solved the problems for us.

    As for trigonometry, it wasn't required and I bailed out of that class after a few days so I have had no experience with it, and never tool calculus.
     
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  3. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    Algebra and Trigonometry have every day applications (Did anyone ever do a 3-4-5 calculation to square a foundation or calculate the height of a tree they were felling to see how much room you need?). I have constant arguments with my engineer son that Calculus has no every day application, not that you don't do things that others have used Calculus to make, but the consumer doesn't need Calculus.
     
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  4. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Neville Telen
    I surely did. Used an Engineering Degree as basis to teach high school math WITHOUT a teaching certificate! The state called out the requirement that I take 15 hrs. of teachers ed., but I didn't, the district hired me, then asked for a secondv year, which I turned down.
    Frank
     
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Don Alaska
    Calculus surely has everyday applications for those designing 3-dimensional volumes having curved surfaces, for example. A great variety of Engineering design problems involve Calculus, and where computer-simulation solves such a problem, SOME nerd had to write the program!
    Frank
     
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  6. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    Exactly my point. Someone has to use calculus, but almost everyone gets along fine without even having to integrate anything. Engineers use it, but for most of us, it was a course to eliminate a lot of people from going forward. Not something the "normal" person uses in everyday life.
     
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  7. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Active Member
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    Algebra? Trigonometry? How does it go again?
     
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  8. Vinny Waccio

    Vinny Waccio Member
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    I am all for it as you never know where your professional life would lead you. I ended up as a software programmer and wrote a lot of software requiring a good knowledge of Algebra and even Calculus. In school I thought I would never need to use it in real life. Boy was I wrong. Binary and hexadecimal numbers, three dimensional arrays, and lots more useless stuff I learned in school allowed me to advance in the IT field until I was a Corporate Information Officer running IT departments for an international company.

    The same applies to a lot of other stuff I learned. Why did I need to learn French and Spanish? I ended up traveling to 21 countries in my life and using these languages for business. Even Latin helped me figure out the meaning of words. History of the world enabled me to enjoy the countries I did business in plus understand the culture. I was in the class for gifted students so I was able to finish early and take elective course in my senior year or go to college. I wanted to stay with my friends and girlfriend so I stayed and took typing twice. People laughed at a guy taking typing but who was laughing when Personal computers came out and I was typing 70 WPM. :)

    Come to think of it, I have had a use for everything I learned in school, even Psychology which helped me become a better Magician in my younger years and understand behavior better. Biology and Chemistry helps me take charge of my own health care and understand what doctors are saying. Physics has been very useful in several of my hobbies. Gym helped me when I entered the Army. Perhaps my class in Marriage and Relationships is why I am married for 46 years. Sex Ed; need I say more. :)
     
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  9. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    I hated it at school...could never understand it. My father used to get furious with me because I just couldn't get it to sink in...anyway..all that stress and I never need it in my working life at all....
     
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  10. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    I like math. I used a lot of math, mostly trig, during my career as a tool and die maker. I was one of the ones others came to when they had a problem figuring an angle. I took calculus in college and liked it but didn't have much use for it in my job.
     
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  11. Beatrice Taylor

    Beatrice Taylor Well-Known Member
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    High school algebra was a great frustration to me and to my teacher.

    I could read the equation and figure out the correct answer but I could not document the various steps that my mind went through to get the answer.
     
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  12. Tim Burr

    Tim Burr Very Well-Known Member
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    I got by on my Algebra and such classes in school, should have worked harder
    when I had the chance.

    Never really needed them till I started working in a Combat Engineering Squadon
    and we built airstrips and hardened shelters.

    When we reactivated Nocton Hall Hospital,UK for Desert Storm, I got to order
    concrete for a pad to place generators on.
    I grabbed my handy cardboard slide calculator and lined up the numbers, did some quick math, .
    and placed our order.

    As the trucks arrived, my lieutenant asked me if I had made the conversion from
    cubic yards to cubic meters that was used in the UK.
    Horror...I hadn't done this, so we were a tad bit short on material. ( 1 cubic yard = 0.764 cubic meter )

    For years I carried one of these with me

    [​IMG]

    Now I just carry an 7" tablet in my cargo pocket with every HVAC, Electrical, etc. app I can download.
    Just too old to work out those formulas anymore:eek:.
     
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  13. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Sheldon Scott
    My Dad was a Tool & Die Maker, never went beyond 8th. grade, but attended Drafting Courses. He apprenticed his kid brother Jim, 10 years younger, and taught him the trade. My Uncle Jim graduated high school, and worked easily with Trigonometry. My Dad went to him when he needed calculations done involving angles!

    Say, you went to College, and became a Die Maker? Seems unusual.
    Frank

    EDIT: May have shown this before, not in Die Maker context: Piece saved sawn off the end of a 10-foot strip, the width being seen in the pic. Material nearly 1/4-inch thick, my Dad built the progressive die which blanked this out, landing mat for Tinian Island in the Pacific. They hooked thousands of pieces together on the sand, providing runway for the giant B-29 bombers. First pic, the smooth top-side, next the underside.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The die set was hauled to the old Ford Plant which was shown in the movie "Tucker", where a large-enough puunch press was available to test the die. My Dad said the building shook!
     
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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  14. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    Of what subject were you speaking, Holly? Math in general, science, calculus, algebra....
     
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  15. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    Maths( we have an added S here)... particularly algebra and trigonometry ...and I hated Physics with a passion, I just couldn't understand it at all.
    The amazing thing is that since leaving school, I learned maths to a good standard once the pressure was off...
     
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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  16. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    I am with you 100% on this, and long thought this one-size-fits-all approach of the public schools is a bunch of......uh, what would be a polite word? Algebra was forced on me in the 10th grade, and as I flunked it, they tried to do this again in the 11th grade, but by then I had already found out that the GED at adult night school did not require it. Needless to say, I told the High School where they could shove their HS diploma. I recall the algebra teacher Mr Ratliffe swearing to me back in 10th grade that I absolutely could not make it without knowing it...similar to the gym teacher swearing I could not make it without learning sports. Algebra, sports, and pretty much everything else required in the public school system proved utterly useless, to sorta marginally useful. It appears others here has had far different experiences. Guess it all depends on what life course one choose. Algebra is obviously needed for engineers, chemists, etc., but I have long been curious just how many it was forced upon actually found it useless, and just learned it and forgot it.
     
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  17. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    I feel very fortunate that Math came easily, not all of it, some never really understood, but did the homework problems (except the "story problems, usually), and usually got A's or B's.

    6th. grade we studied fractions. I performed the work as taught to, mechanically, but wondering "why" and as usual, HAD to understand. Some of that happened only years later. "To divide fractions, invert the denominator, and multiply by the numerator". Jeez-o-pete, why? 1/2 -/- 1/4 = ? 1/2 X 4/1 = 2! 2?? One-half divided by one-fourth is 2???? Sure, but to see it, think: How many fourths are there in one-half? Lightbulb time, of course, 2 fourths make one-half. Years later, in adulthood, I saw this.

    Another neat trick discovered only after much thrashing about: "What is 1/9 of 36? The key is "OF", whenever OF appears, MULTIPLY. OF means MULTIPLY. 1/9 X 36/1 = 4!

    In 2002-2003 school year, I taught Math at our local high school in Missouri. The Seniors were scheduled to get Trigonometry first sem., Calculus the second. Trig I had no qualms over, whatsoever, because it was one of those Math miasmas that I unravelled very late. Calc, I was trepidatious! I knew in advance, based on my own dismal senior year, that memorizing triangles' sides and angles and such was pure rote. There was an easier way, which we actually "learnt" as seniors, but by then, I knew the traditional way, and it skimmed by. It's called "Polar Trigonometry". But by gorra, it's so much clearer. I threw it in early. My supervisor, the HS principal, walked in unexpectedly, brushed off his intrusion, and sat down in the back. I continued on at the blackboard, explaining Polar Coordinates. The Boss was doing a required evaluation. The copy of hios report he handed me later stated, "Mr. Sanoica drew a large circle on the board to explain Trig. Functions!" He knew not, I laughed behind his back. He had no clue whatsoever of Trigonometry, but wrote me up a gratifying review!
    Frank
     
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  18. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    College courses were a required part of tool&die apprenticeship, Frank. Calculus wasn't required but I took it because I was interested in it.
     
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  19. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    lol...you're making me feel ill.... :eek:;)
     
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  20. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    Hey, I got no beef with regular Math. Only a real dunce would make the claim that it is useless. Same with fractions, and yes, even geometry (wish I had paid more attention to both). Algebra, Trig, Calculus, etc., is entirely different. All this is specialized stuff, that I suspect not everyone needs to know, nor will never find any use for. I know I sure never learned Algebra, never once regretted it, nor even once had a need for it. Filled out probably a thousand job applications, and probably had hundreds of job interviews....none ever asked if I knew it, nor had me solve an algebraic problem. I suspect that out of a class of 50 students, maybe 25 will ever have any need for it. Requiring the rest to take the class, and learn it enough to pass the class (as a required prerequisite for the HS diploma), is symptomatic of the one-size-fits-all approach I mentioned before, which in turn is why I am not surprised by the high dropout rate. I will not claim that having Algebra forced on me again in the 11th grade is the sole reason I choose the GED route, but it was definitely high on the list. All this 'specialized stuff' should be either a voluntary elective, or at least only required for the college-bound or those that has shown an aptitude for it.
     
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  21. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Neville Telen
    In my case, entering high school was a real "downer", having been recuperating from 2nd. degree burns to my face, enduring endless remarks about my appearance from strangers I thought had been my friends.......my course workload had been pre-determined between some councellor and my mother, based on "College Prep" due to my ranking in grade school. I paid scant attention to it all, was hit with Biology, Algebra I, Electric Theory, and English first semester. Second year, Physics, Plane Geometry, English, Machine Drafting, and Shop.

    I hit the skids for real the last semester of senior year: failed English after 7 straight "A's" previous. No diploma for me, no commencement activities, 4 yrs. English mandatory for graduation. I was one pissed-off young man, to be sure! Frank
     
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  22. Michelle Anderson

    Michelle Anderson Well-Known Member
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    ROFL! Me too!||I took GED algebra as an adult, and my teacher was about 20 years younger. He didn't have much patience, and I could visualize what he was talking about much, much faster than I could do the math. He called on me early on with some stupid "A train leaves Chicago" drivel. It was pretty easy to figure out in my head. He asked me to show the class how I got it, and I explained that I didn't know.
    He didn't know what to say. He told me after class that I already knew how to do the problem whatever way it was I already knew.

    He tried two more times and then never called on me again.

    I ended up teaching a couple semesters of GED Algebra a couple of years later. I had to study every night before teaching class in the morning. One night, it just clicked. I would still lose the thread of what I was doing from time to time, but I got it.
    Other than that, I've never used it.
     
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  23. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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  24. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    When I'm designing and building some kind of gizmo, I almost always have need for use of algebra, or a lesser form of it. Trigonometry even more often!
    Frank
     
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  25. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
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    I took algebra in high school and barely passed. Trig, forget it.

    I remember taking a pre-employment test (alpha and numerical filing, completing sentences that had a misspelled word and basic math) with no problems, but the math was easy.

    Being that part of my Warehouse/Shipping/Receiving/Purchasing/Inventory Management career included using some math, but never algebra or trig.

    From what I could tell, the classmates of mine that took algebra and trig were those that wound up going to college/university and getting a major degree. IOW, they were mathematically smart! That was not me.
     
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