Author Topic: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?  (Read 1849 times)

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Offline Chino

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2016, 06:40:57 AM »
I'm 27 and still don't have a career picked out.
Quite a few people don't pick a career.  And a lot of that can be traced back to public education and a lack of resources early on in life.

Catholic school boy here who was repeatedly sent to the principal's office for asking questions that were "out of line" or "challenging the teachers". Many parent/teacher meetings :/

Offline Stadler

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2016, 07:27:19 AM »
I'm 27 and still don't have a career picked out.
Quite a few people don't pick a career.  And a lot of that can be traced back to public education and a lack of resources early on in life.

Catholic school boy here who was repeatedly sent to the principal's office for asking questions that were "out of line" or "challenging the teachers". Many parent/teacher meetings :/

I hate devolving into the anecdotal, because it's basically without context and therefore irrelevant, but for every Chino - who didn't play by the rules but had an intellectual rationale - and every kid that didn't have the resources to adequately prepare for a working life, there are five who didn't play by the rules because they are lazy douchebags or didn't adequately prepare for a working life because their parents were lazy douchebags. 

I think the cream of the crop in the U.S. is still as strong as it ever was, but - to steal a sports euphemism - we have ZERO bench strength.   We are the equivalent of the "Tommy Tutone 2" album by Tommy Tutone; one of the greatest singles of all time, but you'd be hard pressed to name or have ever heard even one song from the rest of the album.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 07:57:23 AM by Stadler »

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2016, 08:35:00 AM »
*English major*

*still likes Beowulf*

Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2016, 08:36:21 AM »
every kid that didn't have the resources to adequately prepare for a working life, there are five who didn't play by the rules because they are lazy douchebags or didn't adequately prepare for a working life because their parents were lazy douchebags. 

That seems like a high ratio and a bit harsh.  As much as I know my parents weren't as helpful as I had hoped, I know my mom made an effort.  She just didn't have the resources, the background or any time.  She did when I was in about K-4.  On the PTA, but things started getting tougher each year until she was doing what she could to keep the lights on.

Isn't the problem not lazy parents as much as a) parents without the resources or b) parents that are *too* involved?  The parent that won't let their dumb kid move down to a lower class so he doesn't hold up the rest of the class?

Well, there are complexities here that are hard to talk about without subsuming the entire discussion. It's not the parent's decision to "move their dumb kid down"; the school should do that.  The parent's role then would be to refrain from going in and throwing their weight around to get Johnny into a higher class because it "looks good on the transcript".   

I think there are nuances here.   My dad was very sick when I was a kid (he got hit with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 30, and for most of my high school years he was in a tremendous amount of pain; my mom, brother and I would have to lift him out of most chairs he sat in, and we would put his socks and shoes on for him, etc.).  So he did what he could:  there was NO TV at dinner, and we would talk then.  He instilled on me a reliance on the things you have, not a lamenting of the things you didn't.  Before he got sick, he as a physical brute; not tall (5'8" maybe) but solid as a brick shithouse.  He was a homebuilder and would think nothing of hoisting a packet of roofing shingles on his back and climbing a 30 foot ladder.  After he got sick, his mind was the one thing he could rely on.  Rather than bitch and moan about what he lost, he doubled down on what he had.  It's no small contributor to why I have three degrees and have opted for a career that is decidedly more cerebral than physical. 

I think "money" and "resources" are less important than focus and attitude.  This has been proven.  In the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by Charles I-can't-remember-his-last-name, he has a whole chapter that debunks the myth that "rich kids" have an advantage simply because they are rich.  First, in most districts, the poorer (and poorer performing) schools are those that get MORE money; the problem being, that money goes primarily to administrators and therefore doesn't translate into better education for the kids.  What was shown is that to be educationally successful, you could not just "turn it on at school".   The smartest and most successful (in terms of school performance) kids were those that had some intellectual stimulation year-round.  During the school year, kids (independent of "rich" or "poor") tended to learn at consistent rates but they found that after a break - summer was the study I'm familiar with - placement testing showed little correlation between "rich" and "Poor" but a lot of correlation to whether the students had summer reading programs, or summer school, or camps or whatever.   Those that did showed little drop off over the break (thus were not starting from scratch again) and those that didn't showed tremendous drop off over the break (and thus were virtually starting over again each year).   It doesn't take money to instill a culture of perpetual learning in your kids.  It doesn't take money to go to the free library or the YMCA. 

Offline Stadler

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2016, 12:29:51 PM »
But that only takes into account intellectual testing, not opportunity or interference.

If kid A comes home to a nanny, their own room, a computer with unlimited application opportunities, possibly a tutor, etc ... , they will do better than kid B with the exact same learning capacity, but has to come home to a shared bedroom, poor lighting (or no lighting if the power was just turned off), dreams of buying a computer that doesn't take 8 years to boot, no useful software, a sibling screaming for their turn, etc. ....

Not much different than the physical where my swim team mate goes home to a pool and I do not.  I was better because of natural ability, but they would get to work on problem areas on a whim.  In other words, an easier ability to do homework.

There seems to be a divide where the disadvantage want to disadvantage the advantaged to *even* the playing field.  Then you have the advantaged swearing they just put the effort in, but completely denying their are advantages are just that.  Both seem like the wrong answer to me.

The disadvantaged shouldn't request the ceiling to lower, but the floor to rise.

Not criticizing your opinion here, but as a general rule, I approach broad statements that use terms like "advantaged" and "disadvantaged" as just as useless as "Republican" and "Democrat" or "Red State" and "Blue State".   There are too many variables to talk about it so easily. 

We cannot, I don't think, conflate these so readily.   Does it really matter if someone is reading Harry Potter on a latest gen iPad, or from a tattered paperback?  I don't think so.   Nor can we make false excuses.  I don't think, when man has been reading by candlelight from parchment for tens of thousands of years, now say that "Well Johnny doesn't have a computer, no WONDER he's a dumbass!".  Yes, I understand that if a curriculum requires internet access, there will be advantages to those that have a computer versus ones that don't.   But I think where we set the expectation, where we set the line, matters in these discussions.   And the Bernie mindset is "no line on the horizon" (thanks, Bono).   The fact is, when we say "all men are created equal" it doesn't mean that "we all have laptops".   It means that the rights that are granted under the Constitution are the same for all. 

I think the other thing we've lost sight of - which is ironic in this day and age of the credit card, and skyrocketing personal debt - is the value of non-monetary currency.  We've gotten to the point where the buzzword is "Get Paid!" but we don't really know what that means.   I know for most of the jobs I've ever been involved in hiring, the point of having a college degree isn't specifically that "you took Sociology 201 and therefore know how to implement a subliminal advertising program", or "Why I see you have Statistics 237; you're going to run our Six Sigma Program!" Hey ho!  It IS however, a measure of your perseverance.  A measure of your ability to respond to the varying and disparate needs of 40 some-odd professors, and figure out a way to meet those needs to a moderate (at least) degree of satisfaction.   Just like, incidentally, you do in work when you have stakeholders.  It is also a measure of value; you clearly thought highly enough to further yourself in an objective, uniform environment (as opposed to taking advantage of a subjective "learn on the job" from a guy who may or may not be capable in what he does). 

Offline Stadler

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2016, 04:02:21 PM »
You are reading your Libertarian orthodoxy like a religious fanatic reads reads the Bible / Koran  ....

All one has to do is look in the workplace.  An employee equipped with a CNC machine is just going to churn out more than somebody with a hand held chisel.  You don't go up to the chisel employee and tell them they aren't keeping up with the CNC employee and therefore they are lazy.

Quote
Then one day a salesman came along to the camp. He had a steam-powered drill and claimed it could out-drill any man. Well, they set up a contest then and there between John Henry and that there drill. The foreman ran that newfangled steam-drill. John Henry, he just pulled out two 20-pound hammers, one in each hand. They drilled and drilled, dust rising everywhere. The men were howling and cheering. At the end of 35 minutes, John Henry had drilled two seven foot holes - a total of fourteen feet, while the steam drill had only drilled one nine-foot hole.

John Henry held up his hammers in triumph! The men shouted and cheered. The noise was so loud, it took a moment for the men to realize that John Henry was tottering. Exhausted, the mighty man crashed to the ground, the hammer's rolling from his grasp. The crowd went silent as the foreman rushed to his side. But it was too late. A blood vessel had burst in his brain. The greatest driller in the C&O Railroad was dead.

I like the concept of the Libertarian.  It is a great concept.  But like all concepts, it is just that.  It is a way to begin looking at how to tackle a problem.  How can we do this without 10,000 pages of new legal jargon and government intervention?  But that's just the starting point so you end up with less is more.  But you still get less, not nothing.  You don't reject the less because it is more than none.

Now if college is about proving hard work (even though you've admitted people fucked their way through it) and has nothing to do with advantage, then perhaps we should do away with all financial aid, grants, loans, etc.  And to make sure it is paid for with the student's hard work and not their friends or family, they must work a job prior to college to pay for it.  And we should make sure everybody works the same job, let's say waste management.  And they all get the exact same wage.  It shouldn't be a problem because if you want it, you want it.

Dismissing terms like advantaged and disadvantaged is anything but the equivalent of Red and Blue.  I can choose to go from red to blue just as easily as I chose to go from blue to red.  The disadvantaged can't just say "hey, advantaged is better. I'm advantaged now.  Why didn't I see this way is better earlier?"  To simply dismiss that and even ridicule it takes and extreme adherence to a philosophy to the point of making it unusable.

The internet has already been a great equalizer.  Libraries were great, but they held an infinitesimal fraction of what is today at one's fingertips (possibly in today's library).  But it is a free for all (which is also what makes it so great).  In some ways, people need to combine a mentor with the internet.  And many do not have that mentor.  Worse, there are people on the internet that can claim to be a mentor that are actually causing more harm than good.  And don't even get me started on Le Petit Tourette.

The suck it up speech is a good concept, but not as a sole lesson.  It is like screaming at somebody drowning to "suck it up" instead of putting in some minimal effort to toss a life preserver.  Then when the person doesn't make it, you conclude your theory worked.  They must have just not wanted it badly enough.  It is an extremist point of view.

This is neither fair nor accurate.   

First, I'm not saying "suck it up".  I'm saying make sure the field is level and the comparisons accurate before you DON'T suck it up.  This isn't a "fundamentalist Libertarian" perspective.   I am the first person to advocate the "eggshell plaintiff" (Google it) and if you ever read my praise for Bill Parcells and how he handled both Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, you'll know what I'm talking about. 

Second, we can get to the point that all the laptops and CNC machines and steam-driven drills in the world aren't going to get results.  What then?  And what about the point in between (which is where we are now, I believe) where the $1,000,000 steam-driven drill or the $2,000 laptop generates $500,000 of hole or $1,000 worth of text?     

Offline Darkstarshades

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2016, 09:18:31 PM »
Here in Mexico, I can say that I've only met around 7-8 people who have said "I love math!"
Throughout my school years I actievly saw a hellton of people blowing it and then qqing, but, interestingly, those who did pass, didn't say anything bad at all.

At least here in my country, people is raised to think they're hard, that they're incredibly tough and that they're utterly unnecessary, which I disagree.
I've always thought, if you hate them so hard, pass them, no need to do it again.
As for Algebra, I always tho that was easy, and served as a fundamental area that has to be known before getting to other areas of advanced math.
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Offline 7th

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #42 on: November 24, 2016, 05:32:27 PM »
Just my late-in-the-game 2 cents but math skills are SO important for everyone to learn to the best of their ability.  You may forget how to manually do higher math over time, like I mostly have, but the process of learning it conditions the brain for problem solving, logical thinking, and critical refinement.  Math, like doing it or not, is a gift and should be appreciated for its power to exercise the human mind.
 
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Offline TAC

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #43 on: November 24, 2016, 05:36:07 PM »
Just my late-in-the-game 2 cents but math skills are SO important for everyone to learn to the best of their ability.  You may forget how to manually do higher math over time, like I mostly have, but the process of learning it conditions the brain for problem solving, logical thinking, and critical refinement.  Math, like doing it or not, is a gift and should be appreciated for its power to exercise the human mind.
 

I agree.
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
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Online cramx3

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #44 on: November 28, 2016, 03:09:37 PM »
Just my late-in-the-game 2 cents but math skills are SO important for everyone to learn to the best of their ability.  You may forget how to manually do higher math over time, like I mostly have, but the process of learning it conditions the brain for problem solving, logical thinking, and critical refinement.  Math, like doing it or not, is a gift and should be appreciated for its power to exercise the human mind.
 

I agree.

I agree as well, but one thing about math and problem solving is that there isn't always a single path to the solution.  Which is why I dislike common core math. 

Offline XJDenton

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #45 on: November 29, 2016, 04:41:24 AM »
The problem with maths is that the stuff that is useful and the stuff that is easily assessed are often far removed from each other.

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Re: Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools?
« Reply #46 on: November 29, 2016, 07:33:40 AM »
The problem with maths is that the stuff that is useful and the stuff that is easily assessed are often far removed from each other.

Well you need to understand the math before you can apply it, but I agree.  I think there's lots of real life uses of math that does not get the attention it should in school.