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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: Loyd

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003090914:09:04
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Teaching Algebra in Middle School

I am retired now, but have taught math in high school.  I also don't
think all kids should be stuck into algebra at a very early stage. 
However, about 50% of the students will excel grade wise in the
toughest of courses. 

Many students I taught in algebra were not ready for algebra in that
they hadn't properly learned fractions, decimals and percents.  Many
were weak in solving word problems.  Many were poor in geometry that
should be taught in middle school such as perimeter, area, volume and
the obvious theorems that everyone should learn.  

We now are rushing them into algebra without proper preparation.  

Also, some kids learn to hate math because of the way they are rushed

Myself, I didn't learn algebra at all in high school although I had
trig, solid geometry and plane geometry.  I knew I was handicapped so
I checked out all the algebra books in a local library that had many
of them and just worked the examples.  When I did go to college, I had
to take an entry exam and did OK on algebra.  Finally got a BA in
Mathematics. Math was relativly easy for me.

If I had studied algebra in high school, I suspect I would have not
been interested in math at all.  It was my lack of math that spurred
me on. 

The reason everyone is taking algebra now, is that schools are
required to offer algebra to all students.  And in some states,
success in algebra is a prerequisite for graduation.  

I am not sure all can learn mathematics equally even if we have the
best teachers.  My own children did well in high school and college
but then I brain washed them into thinking they had to take it.  It
takes family involvement sometimes to get students to learn a subject.
Many parents pooh pooh mathematics.  I used to get teased by many
folks every time I miseed a pool shot, as an example.  

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