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
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Messages:
    467
    Likes Received:
    392
    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.
     
    #16
    Holly Saunders and Frank Sanoica like this.
  2. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    6,087
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    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
     
    #17
    Neville Telen and Don Alaska like this.
  3. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2015
    Messages:
    2,644
    Likes Received:
    3,967
    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.
     
    #18
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  4. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Messages:
    36,293
    Likes Received:
    11,383
    lol...you're making me feel ill.... :eek:;)
     
    #19
  5. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Messages:
    467
    Likes Received:
    392
    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.
     
    #20
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  6. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    6,087
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    @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
     
    #21
    Michelle Anderson likes this.
  7. Michelle Anderson

    Michelle Anderson Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2016
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    247
    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.
     
    #22
  8. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    18,855
    Likes Received:
    18,135
  9. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    6,087
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    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
     
    #24
    Don Alaska likes this.
  10. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,042
    Likes Received:
    3,731
    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.
     
    #25
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
    Moderator Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    15,464
    I got Bs in both years of algebra in high school, but I cheated some and, during tests, I had to quickly scan the test in order to answer some questions before I forgot how to do the formulas. I didn't feel confident in algebra until a math teacher at one of the colleges I was teaching at showed me how easy it was. In a couple of hours, she taught me more than two years of algebra in high school. I signed up for trigonometry but dropped out after a few days. They may as well have been teaching it in Latin for all the sense I was able to make of it.
     
    #26
  12. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2018
    Messages:
    1,932
    Likes Received:
    2,951
    As I said above, algebra and trig I find useful in every day life, but I have never had any application for calculus.
     
    #27
  13. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2018
    Messages:
    418
    Likes Received:
    725
    It's amazing how some of you are able to remember maths classes in detail including formulas and what they did in a particular situation. With me it's all kind of foggy and there's no clear memory.
     
    #28
  14. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2018
    Messages:
    1,932
    Likes Received:
    2,951
    I guess that means you never used the stuff you were obligated to study.
     
    #29
    Thomas Stearn likes this.
  15. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2018
    Messages:
    1,362
    Likes Received:
    1,051
    More than mathematically solving a problem, Algebra steers you to address the problem in logical terms of what is given and what must be solved, using that magical term "X" that does all the work!

    This applies not only to mathematical problems, but to other problems, such as prioritizing tasks, which require a logical approach with a well thought-out plan, instead of jumping into them with no plan in mind.

    Hal
     
    #30
    Frank Sanoica and Ken Anderson like this.

Share This Page