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Q&A #1739

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Purpose of studying algebra

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From: Jon Poston

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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