Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Algebra Post Mental Bleedover

Dan points out that there's nothing about Algebra II in the Andrew Hacker piece that started this discussion, while my post was only about Algebra II. This was not a clever gambit on my part, in my mind the piece was about Algebra II. Doing a little mental and RSS forensics, I think it is because Dana Goldstein used this quote from Anthony Carnevale in introducing her long quote from the piece:

Education reform has stalled on Algebra 2. The more you demand it, the more drop-outs you have.

That bled through into my reading of Hacker. I do agree with Dan that:

The argument that we ought to limit second-year Algebra (with its strict rites and rituals of symbolic manipulation) to people who volunteer for it is a much easier argument than saying "all Algebra oughtta be elective." Given how much of the automated and programmed world relies on an understanding of variable representation, I don't really see that argument.

On the other hand, it is even weirder that most of the defenders of algebra are making rather indirect arguments. You do need to understand variables.

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