Q&A #4990

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 alone. 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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