This is just plain sad...

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
2,985
Here's a great idea: let's dumb down our education system even more than it already has been!

Say Goodbye To X+Y: Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra?

I wonder how many years will go by before we see calls to eliminate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from the curriculum because they're "too hard"?

The future is here. And it ain't pretty.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
8,920
Considering that students should have a mastery of algebra to graduate from middle school, it's extremely sad.

They should require appropriate classes for a "well rounded" education and let students that have no aptitude get a low grade.
 
Here's a great idea: let's dumb down our education system even more than it already has been!

Say Goodbye To X+Y: Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra?

I wonder how many years will go by before we see calls to eliminate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from the curriculum because they're "too hard"?

The future is here. And it ain't pretty.
No, it is not pretty and yes, it is sad...but maybe not new.

The saddest part to me is reflected here, "Oakley is among a growing number of educators who view intermediate algebra as an obstacle to students obtaining their credentials — particularly in fields that require no higher level math skills." (BTW: Note the transition of "intermediate" to "higher")

We have all heard students express frustration with education manifested as "I am NEVER going to need to know that!". I believe that you don't know what you will need to know. If we knew everything you would need to know than every teacher would just teach that information.

What makes it so sad is that a specialized version of lowest-common denominator teaching seems to be at work here. Maybe it was always at work and old people like me and you just see it from a different perspective. I worry that the trend is for "typecasting" of the student at a younger and younger age.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
23,352
I have mixed feelings about teaching intermediate Algebra in college (I do think all high school graduates should have at least one course of Algebra).
Is there really a good argument for requiring algebra beyond the high school level?
Is it really necessary for a "well-rounded" education?
Do you really think it improves the thinking process (one argument I've heard)? I have my doubts.
And I would imagine that intermediate algebra could be extremely difficult for someone not technically minded.
Certainly algebra is of little use for anyone not in a technical field.
I'm a retired engineer and even I only used no more than rudimentary algebra my whole career.
As noted in the article there may be other math courses more suited to the student's major (statistics for example) that might be required.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
8,920
Is it really necessary for a "well-rounded" education?
You have to draw the line somewhere.

I've had absolutely no use for the history classes I was required to take in college, but I took them. If I had no aptitude for memorizing dates and facts, I would have accepted a low grade.

The same goes for speech class. I didn't enjoy it, but I took it. What I learned in class did little to prepare me for speaking before hundreds of people.

English was of very little use, but I took the classes because they were required. I learned everything I needed to know before graduating from high school.

I took Chemistry and Physics and had very little use, in my career, for what I learned.

I took a lot of math and used very little of it in my career.

Was it a complete waste of time? No.
 

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,033
WOW

Algebra is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree — particularly for students of color
I do not believe that skin color makes math easier or harder for anyone. There are other factors to blame. Dumbing down the curriculum to make the numbers look "better" for a minority group does not help anybody, least of all the minority group.
 

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,033
At American community colleges, 60 percent of those enrolled are required to take at least one math course. Most — nearly 80 percent — never complete that requirement.
Please let's throw out this notion that everybody is supposed to go to college. It is a ridiculous notion that was drilled into my head in high school, and the generation before me and after me. That's where this comes from. You have half the people just going to college because they were told they needed to go. They aren't smart or special and they have no goals. They try to float through and fail. That is not an indicator that the curriculum is too hard; it is an indicator that 80% of the people in college shouldn't be there.

If they make the curriculum so easy that everybody graduates with a degree, then what does the degree mean? NOTHING, except you had the time and money to get it. It's meaning has been almost reduced to that already IMO. I guess that's one negative aspect of education being sold for profit. Easy sells better.

Please for the love of all that is good, stop encouraging stupid.
 
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panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,782
why not? smart ones will always outpace stupid ones and end up in key positions anyway...

stupid pays tuition... that is good for smart ones. the more people pay, the more affordable education becomes. poorly funded education will limit what smart ones can learn...
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,808
We have all heard students express frustration with education manifested as "I am NEVER going to need to know that!". I believe that you don't know what you will need to know. If we knew everything you would need to know than every teacher would just teach that information.
Unfortunately the reality is when someone is looking at pursuing a certain career they tend to talk to those who are actually in it to see if it is what they want to be a part of and many of those who live those career lives tell the younger people exactly what they need and don't need for an education ragardingthe work.

As someone who went back to college for electrical engineering degree in his 20's with already some real life hands on experience with the field I found that the college education for the degree was pure irrelevant unrelated crap. The math they taught had near zero relation to what was needed for such engineering, same with most every other class as well. In fact I would say a full 3/4 of the classes I had to take were totally useless for engineering of any kind and the few I did take were pathetically weak at best.

I live and believe in the largely conservative life and work mentality but the one liberal issue I will side with every time is the one regarding people suing the crap out of a college for giving them a junk education. I lived and saw it first hand and have every reason to believe that most people wanting to do so are justified in their reasoning as well.

So from my own perspective and experiences I have very little issue with them cutting algebra out given that from what I have seen little of it is actually relevant to real life application. I mean, what's the point of having a class that serves no purpose or function in your future employment? Just because it's called an algebra class does not mean that they are in fact teaching any form of practical life applacial math in it.
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,808
I have mixed feelings about teaching intermediate Algebra in college (I do think all high school graduates should have at least one course of Algebra).
Is there really a good argument for requiring algebra beyond the high school level?
Is it really necessary for a "well-rounded" education?
Do you really think it improves the thinking process (one argument I've heard)? I have my doubts.
And I would imagine that intermediate algebra could be extremely difficult for someone not technically minded.
Certainly algebra is of little use for anyone not in a technical field.
I'm a retired engineer and even I only used no more than rudimentary algebra my whole career.
As noted in the article there may be other math courses more suited to the student's major (statistics for example) that might be required.

Same here. So much of my engineering degree classwork had no real life practical application.

Now my earlier technical trades education stuff from the mid 1990's when I just got out of high school is something I still use every day.
Of every class I took for that 2 year degree I can not recall one that was a total irrelevant waste of time compared to my later EE degree which I have to say for sure 3/4 of it was useless and the remainder in 1/4 was barely fit to call it relevant to anything. To be honest , the most practical classes I took were my group of electives I burned up on Environmental and Geology classes. Two things that have near zero relevance to electrical engineering but oddly enough I have come to appreciate ever since.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
331
This is beyond sad... First, schools stop teaching students proper math skills in order to avoid failure. Now failure to pass community level algebra course is being blamed for unemployment... (algebra requirement is biggest barrier to a job as per article).

Admittedly, math is difficult. I myself had a huge problem understanding negative numbers back in elementary school - how could you have a negative amount of something? You either have it, or you dont... Anyway, I think a great deal of harm has been done by splitting math in school into applied math, etc. What needed to happen was creation of two streams - math for all students, and a higher level enhanced math for more advanced. Not the dumming down of it.

As far as is it useful? Well, why teach how to write when at this point everything could be dictated to your phone and autocorrected for you?

p.s. I thought education was about developing brain's potential. To that end, as many different subjects should be studied as early as possible to keep all neural circuit alive. Once you stop, neuroplasticity starts to diminish... but I fear not too many care about that
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
687
At our University Math is a Money Maker, most students fail miserably without a degree because of Math, no path driven degree. Math as I understand it, is not innate for the human brain. We have more connection with visual or verbal. Even language structure is in question because it evolves, most individuals and cultures possibly give rise or fall because of who owns the language.

Testing requirements that meet the National Standard selectively because of it's algorithm will place people above and not between. National Testing say's Algebra 2 have beginning Trig or even pre-calc. I'm not an advocate of the Algorithm picking a test score based on it, simply because I was the victim of it. Because of my answers it thought I should advance and be scored above my level of ability.

Sadly I learned Algebra 1 late in life spending the most part of a summer, with cramped hands and racked brain. I did have some understanding of Algebra 2 which threw me into the Trig region. Just saying now, I understand some in the University that say if an Arts or Education degree should have a better knowledge of Math concepts. But, like @cruschow suggests, they base their decision on how it will further develop the brain. Maybe for those who choose outside of STEM we should just let it fall where it may.

When I attended a Technical College only the Math to achieve the degree was needed beyond that not necessary, they knew I would only need it for a Tech degree and would never use it. The Engineers would run the Company, my responsibility was implement field repair based on their view of correction, basically implement X,Y,Z if not back to the drawing board.

kv
 
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tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,808
Admittedly, math is difficult. I myself had a huge problem understanding negative numbers back in elementary school - how could you have a negative amount of something? You either have it, or you dont... Anyway, I think a great deal of harm has been done by splitting math in school into applied math, etc. What needed to happen was creation of two streams - math for all students, and a higher level enhanced math for more advanced. Not the dumming down of it.
That's my peeve as well. There Is so little practical applied math taught yet loads of largely irrelevant to reality hence pushed on student at every level now.

I did poorly in math in high school due to the overwhelming lack of practicality of it even way back in the early 90's. Then I got into my technical Trades classes in college where everything was aimed directly at applied real world problem solving and somehow I went from being a D- pain in the ass math student to ruling the classes!

Then some years later when I went for my engineering classes I was stuck right back where I was in high school struggling with class after class of pure useless crap they called math. As an older than average student who had actually been around the fields of work I wanted to get a degree in I knew damn well what math was needed and what was not and what they were teaching was not it in every aspect of reality.

It was disheartening and frustrating to know I was paying a pile of money to be educated in something that had zero practical application in my life.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
24,695
Boy, has my experience been SO different from what many of you are claiming.

I have used a LOT of what I learned at all levels of my education.

I think most of you have used a lot more than you think you have, too.

When I was a new grad student I got curious about this and so did a little informal experiment. I put an adhesive dot on the spine of every text in my bookcase, which consisted almost exclusively of all the textbooks I had used in my undergraduate curriculum (except a humanities text that I sold my freshman year and have regretted doing so many time since). Any time I looked something up in one of those books I would remove the sticker. At the end of the year most of the books had had their stickers removed. I couldn't believe that I had actually referred to so many of my texts from so many of the different subject areas, but if I concentrated on one book at a time I could usually recall what it was that I had looked up. Had someone asked me how much I had referred to those prior courses during that year, I probably would have said, "Not too much, just a handful of times at most." Yet I had actually called upon well over half of them, but it was so matter of fact that I didn't recall doing it until presented with the evidence that I had.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
24,695
Here's a great idea: let's dumb down our education system even more than it already has been!

Say Goodbye To X+Y: Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra?

I wonder how many years will go by before we see calls to eliminate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from the curriculum because they're "too hard"?

The future is here. And it ain't pretty.
That future has largely been here for quite some time. I now routinely deal with PhD students that can't do 8th grade algebra. A significant fraction of undergraduate students in Computer Science don't have the math proficiency that someone leaving elementary school used to be expected to have.

You might recall the "quiz" that one of my fellow profs gave his Calc-I students:

https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/math-literacy-tanks-even-further.106968/

He (and others) still gives the quiz and the scores have slid further.

Most distressing is that the people that do the worst on it are the declared math majors -- most of whom are getting a math degree so that they can teach K-12 math!

It's just an example of what I call The Cash Register Syndrome.

https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/what-is-done-in-the-electronics-classroom-these-days.121006/page-2#post-967076
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
2,985
Looking back on the courses I took while getting my EE degree, I can think of only two which taught me nothing that subsequently proved useful: Chemistry and a class called (as best I remember) Rotating Electrical Machines (i.e., motors and generators). Not that they were bad courses; it's just that in doing what I ended up doing for a living for nearly 40 years (circuit design), I never made use of anything taught in them.

Everything else had application, to some degree or other, and they gave me the theoretical and mathematical foundation to really understand the things I had become familiar with in a "hands-on" sense during my previous decade working as a technician.

So for me, the college courses I took, including the math, were very useful.

Just my own personal experience, FWIW.
 

JohnInTX

Joined Jun 26, 2012
3,804
Boy, has my experience been SO different from what many of you are claiming.
I have used a LOT of what I learned at all levels of my education.
I think most of you have used a lot more than you think you have, too.
+1 Without boring everyone with the details, I learned a lot of practical skills outside of college but I use the formal academic stuff all the time. Besides the CS major, the minor in physics and science electives in biology have proven extremely valuable and opened the doors to a successful engineering/consulting business. My only regret is that I scattered it out, changed majors a few times and didn't go further when I was young, strong and my time was cheap. That regret was visited in spades upon my kids. They went to college. They are still in college. One's an MD working on an EM fellowship and writing another research paper. The other is working on a dual masters at Naval Postgraduate in Monterrey after learning how nuclear submarines work. I am envious.

I agree that some aren't cut out for a formal college. But however you get it, post-secondary education whether university, trade school, OJT, community college or HardKnox U, is going to be more and more non-negotiable.

Just my .03
 
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