Q&A #1739

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Purpose of studying algebra

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From: Michael Sakowski

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2007082911:08:35
Subject: Why Study Algebra? (And Math in General)

This is the big question that I intend on providing a lot of answers for over the course of this year on my sabbatical project. I am developing resources that give lots of good reasons why "math is good" and am posting them at http://www.mathmotivation.com/all-applications.html . Please take a look at them and use them in your classroom however you want. My focus is to point out the direct and indirect value of algebra. We have a lot of good applications of arithmetic (and calculus-level math) but when it comes to finding good reasons for say learning how to factor a polynomial, we (including myself) are at a loss. I believe there are good reasons for learning algebra. We learn how to correctly apply mathematical properties, justifying our steps much like a lawyer would justify a court case. We learn how to symbolically reason. And, of course, we prepare for calculus and higher mathematics, if that is the course of study we choose.

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