Q&A #1739

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Purpose of studying algebra

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From: Jon Poston <jonposton@yahoo.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003030501:59:51
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Purpose of studying algebra

You seem to be contradicting yourself.  You say Algebra requires
higher order thinking skills, and I agree.  Then in the same sentence
you infer that Algebra should be taught to elementary students.  I
believe a student must master the fundamentals you are presently
teaching before they can comprehend the more abstract relationships
between numbers themselves.  How can a child understand multiplying a
variable with a coeffiecent if they don't know how to multiply whole
numbers first?  On the other hand, if you have a bright student who
comprehends number relationships more deeply than his peers, by all
means give that student a chance to learn more and challenge his (or
her) own intellect.  We needn't hold back anyone from learning even
advanced concepts just because they are young, but they should be
developing mathematical maturity capable of handling Algebra before
being exposed to it.  Perhaps it's a matter of striking the balance
between boring them (holding them back when they could do more) and
overwhelming them (by exposing them to abstract concepts too early).

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