Sunday, March 27, 2016

Should everyone have to pass algebra in high school? Same question for swimming in PE

Do we fail high school students by forcing traditional math, with all its abstraction  (Algebra 1) down their throats?  That seems to be the theme of a new book “The Math Myth” by Andrew Hacker in Queens College, as reviewed by John Wihbey in National Geographic, here.
A group of students doesn’t get the abstraction of, say, high school algebra and wonders why they have to pass it.  Problems with math may be driving social inequality farther.

I can remember that working as a substitute teacher, a patronizing attitude from some students.

Middle schools often put their best students into algebra in seventh grade today, and everyone by eighth grade; when I went to school in the late 50s it was ninth grade. Remember those algebra tests with word problems, or with long division problems (and the “check”).

On the other hand (as indicated in a post here Feb. 12 from AoPS) it’s abstract problem solving that drives so much of technology, and particularly code.

I wonder if you could make up some algebra test problems from current presidential race “delegate mathematics” – both parties.

Also, WJLA in Washington DC today is asking if swimming should be mandatory in high school PE (including passing it).  My high school did not have a pool when I graduated in 1961; today, the new facility (Washington-Lee in Arlington VA) does indeed have it.  Here's a perspective.from US Maters Swimming. It doesn't meed to be "competitive" (I went to one meet at SMU when living in Dallas in 1982, so I remember the "natatorium").

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