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re: Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II
Posted:
Aug 24, 2013 8:09 PM



I like that the title uses Algebra II instead of Algebra 2, as that gives the flavor of how mustydusty is so much of the heritage here. I also like that he keeps bringing it back to Chicago, where I also lecture on curriculum sometimes, with another workshop coming up shortly.
What I don't like is the willingness to keep math in its box (as "high school math"  a schoolish fiction) and to accept the rubric of its littler boxes: Algebra I (OK?), Geometry (also hated), Trig, Algebra II, then maybe calculus or statistics.
There's no effort to address the question "what about SQL HTML CSS LAMP bash?" That's obviously "computer science", an elective, an implication I consider a product of trashy / sloppy thinking (are the Russians also this dumb?).
Baker's proposal that 9th graders be more actively recruited with a more gee whiz preview / overview course, that cultivates brand loyalty, to be followed by electives, is constructive, insofar as it goes, but is also consistent with state statutes that keep to "at least three years" of mathematical subjects.
Suppose your state agrees with making Algebra II an elective *and* mandates three years of math.
Take something else if you like.
Seminumeric algorithms?
Mathematics for the digital age and programming in Python?
Recipes in STEM (includes "home ec" concepts)?
Your school might have quite a smorgasbord of offerings, from robotics to 3D animation to web development, all of which, guess what, count as credit towards your "math" requirement.
What's pathetic about North Americans' education, at least south of Canada and probably there too, is the mindless acceptance of crappy categories. "This is math and this is not".
So much art and music that could have been kept. Such a pile of dead bodies, destroyed careers, all based on timidity and reverential acceptance of the "KthroughTwelve Code" (scholastic, antiquarian, wimpy, dustcovered, parasitic  nothing so useful as Da Vinci's).
What I recommend as a way of countering all this idiocracy is that language teachers not sit on the sidelines and watch it go down. I urge language arts teachers to start helping themselves to unclaimed content.
If the "math" people won't touch the Document Object Model (DOM) and if HTML is less important than polynomial equations, then lets bring these in, along with Internet topologies, as topics in the Humanities.
The Romans had similar templates, would recognize XML as more Latin grammar. Lets pioneer a civilization wherein we stop waiting for "math" to keep up with technology. They had their chance. Lets make engineering more literary as a consequence, with "pure math" for those with the least gift of the gab.
And that's where I think Baker's article arrives victorious. Baker himself is not a math teacher. He's a smart guy who outwitted the test makers and now writes literary pieces for a national magazine.
We're learning more about what the old farts were trying to teach us from little essays like this one, than from several weeks slogging through Pearson.
He has written a history and developed a debating position. He is armed and dangerous (figuratively, polemically) and in that sense he's doing well.
Lets piggy back on Baker's position and make similar gestures of disrespect towards the Core Standards movement.
The "plan to jam" as in "jam it (Algebra II) down our throats" is soon to be disrupted  I think that's what this article foretells.
Kirby



