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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