Is Algebra Necessary? – NYTimes.com


I certainly sympathize with the author’s concerns. I have often found myself teaching algebra and calculus concepts when I’ve needed my students to understand concepts in music, and especially in the physics of sound. But the idea that students should not have to take algebra if it impedes their educational process is fundamentally flawed.

This only perpetuates what I call the C. P. Snow myth, that the arts/humanities and the sciences are so separate and distinct that they have no connection or correlation to one another, that they can and should be studied separately, and that we shouldn’t expect people to be able to understand both. The myth is just that, a myth.

The challenge we have is in the way we teach Algebra in high school, and math in general. New technologies can help make math more visual and relevant. We must approach its teaching from our 21st century perspective, with real world problems and their computational implications. If we really want to solve the problem of math illiteracy, we need to address its teaching, and not vilify the subject.

To paraphrase JFK, we study math not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Is Algebra Necessary? – NYTimes.com.

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