To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Subject: Algebra I
I have taught algebra I & II in two different states and have been a volunteer tutor in literacy councils and also a tutor for hire. Now, I am fully retired. In my early days, I had a little algebra in about the 10Th grade but not much more than something like 3x + 10 = 25. When I then transferred to a state that taught quite a bit of math, and was asked if I had algebra, I said yes because I thought I had. So, I went into geometry, then trigonometry and then solid geometry. I passed OK, because I was good with arithmetic, but was somewhat disadvantaged when it came to problems that required more algebra. But in college, after serving 4 years in the Navy, studied math at home on my own and then I went to college and majored in Math. It was easy by then because I learned in the service that math was useful. One thing I discovered by my experience that many of my college classmates were also veterans and made vary low grades before going into the service but excelled when they went to college; often with straight A's. Many of these people had been technicians and often went into engineering. As a tutor in literacy councils and a tutor in commercial institutions, I have ran into many people who also think they have learned enough as soon as they can do simple problems like 3x+10=25 and then they drop out. But many of these people are very weak in fractions, decimals, percentage and also in simple geometry. Often they knew very little re what I call "back of the book subjects" such as geometry which should be taught in general math or prealgebra courses. I have lived in suburbs where everybody was trying to build a back yard basketball court or some other home project and I was constantly helping some of those folks compute how many yards of concrete would be needed for a 4 inch thick slab of concrete. Many of them just guessed and bought too much concrete and the delivery man just took took the excess down the road and dumped the excess in a ditch. There is also one other problem. I have taught and known many students who were whizzes in math but were tired of it by the time they got out of college and forgot most of what they learned and were glad they did. It is rare to really find some one who likes math all his/her life even though they might have been pretty good at it in their early days. I finally learned math partly because I read Jack London's, "Cruise of the Snark" and had a strong desire to learn how to navigate around of the world. So, students often need something to aim for.
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