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Topic: Algebra for everyone

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Subject:   RE: Algebra for everyone
Author: Grip
Date: Jun 2 2006
On Jun  2 2006, Mathman wrote:
> On Jun  1 2006, Grip wrote:
>It's your
> attitude, you either
> believe all students can learn mathematics or
> you don't.

> not about attitude.  It's about understanding.  It is the fact that
> some believe that there are no limits that is the cause of much
> frustration in the young when they are asked to actually face those
> limits at one point or another, and they all will.

Oh boy, I don't know even know where to begin with your post.

But here goes: Who decides the limits? You? A diagnostic test? If we want to
raise the achievement level of students, especially students who show promise of
achieving at great levels, the we must ask more of all students.

There are two philosophies of math education, we either see ourselves as a pump
to help all students achieve or as a funnel to weed out those who don't have the
skill at that point in their education. We should always be encouraging students
to achieve at a higher level.

The local
> farmer across the road will not use algebra in several lifetimes.
> He is much more concerned about how to save his pregnant cow that is
> having delivery problems, or whether or not it is reasonable to tile
> his field for a possibly better crop yeild.  He could care less
> about how to solve a quadratic equation.  "Algebra for everyone"
> sounds far too much like "Nuclear physics for dummies."

Totally wrong example. I grew up on a dairy farm and it is probably a main
reason why I became interested in mathematics. We were interested in making a
profit. Rate of change and all those other math concepts lead us to make

Why would anyone care about solving quadratic equation? Why would anyone care
about identifying a verb or a noun? They are tools to be used in context.

When it
> is necessary, by dictate, to teach algebra to those less willing
> than others, then anything that works is an asset.  However, it is
> not an asset only if it is different.  Like a prescription drug, a
> tool must be proven useful to a majority, and there will always be
> those who have adverse, or unexpected effects.

All can learn
> "mathematics" only in that all can learn *some* mathematics, just as
> anyone can learn to play the piano, but be far from being
> entertaining.  Some can learn, only in that they can perform some
> mechanical operations, either in arithmetic or algebra, but they
> will still have little or no understanding of "mathematics".  I once
> heard a young man play a popular Chopin etude.  He hit all the right
> notes, few errors, ...but it wasn't music.

So you agree. All students can learn some mathematics. What is your definition
of some? Who decides the limits? It is our job to take the "some" and stretch
it. Algebra in high school isn't a huge stretch.

So, please forgive me,
> but I can not agree at all with the apparent intent of your above
> remark as stated, which appears to set no limitations, but which do
> exist in reality.  I would agree that many do not stretch far enough
> to realise those true limitations, so setting lower limits for
> themselves, but they are there none the less.

I never said there were no limits. Re-read the post, I said I differentiate
instruction. The original question was can all students take Algebra in high
school. The answer is a resounding yes as long as their teacher believes all
students can succeed.

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