Q&A #4990

Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: Kristina (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 02, 2000 at 15:21:31
Subject: Re: Teaching algebra in middle school

Hi Alice, Here's an opposing view for you from another Teacher2Teacher Associate. You'll see that Chris' definition is not the same as Martha's. He's talking about a course, Algebra I, not just algebraic reasoning. Let us know if this information is useful to you. -Kristina, for the T2T service Chris wrote: As a math teacher, I am convinced that it is often not appropriate for some middle school students to take Algebra I. Since Algebra is the study of patterns, one could argue that algebraic reasoning occurs in grades much lower than fifth grade. Therefore, the argument that it should be taught to all in middle school because it is taught in fifth grade, is not logical. Formal algebraic operations is an abstract thinking process that can be daunting for some middle school students. Unfortunately, it is in states like Florida that mandate algebra to all that creates this problem. You push a kid too early into Algebra, and you could limit the potential of that student because their foundation will be weak. When states like Florida mandate Algebra for all, what ends up happening is that the Algebra that is taught, because it must reach all students, is watered down, lacking in rigor and depth, and demonstrably inferior to what the program should be. Algebra for all middle school students (11-14 year olds) is not something we should pursue as a nation unless we are willing to sacrifice the math potential of many of our students. Chris Mahoney Brookwood School

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