Q&A #1739

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Purpose of studying algebra

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From: Dean Sherman <shermand@cds.on.ca>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003030415:22:51
Subject: The purpose of algebra

My grade 9 students have difficulty appreciating the usefulness of the
Standard Form of the equation of a line, prompting them to ask "When
are we ever going to need this?".

This question used to really bother me, and I would look, as a result,
for justification for everything I taught. Now I say, "Never. You will
never use this." 

I then go on to remind them that people don't lift weights so that
they will be prepared should, one day, someday knock them over on the
street and lay a barbell across their chests. You lift weights so that
you can knock over a defensive lineman, or carry your groceries or
lift your grandchildren without being sore the next day.

You do math exercises, so that you can improve your ability to think
logically, so that you can be a better lawyer, doctor, architect,
prison warden or parent.

MATH IS MENTAL WEIGHT TRAINING. It is a means to an end, (for most
people), not an end in itself.

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