Thursday, August 2, 2012

Math, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

There was a New York Times article earlier this week questioning the use of algebra as part of a standard high school curriculum.

Education writer and blogger Daniel Willingham wrote a strong rebuttal.

Both sides made cogent arguments.  Both sides failed to cover everything contained within the other’s arguments.  Such is the nature of debate.

Where do I stand?  We’ll…I’m a math teacher (soon)…sooo…

Hopefully math teachers still exist when I graduate.  I jest (I hope).

Being a future math teacher, you would think I would naturally jump to the defense of mathematics, waving my flag and brandishing my sword. 

Not so fast. 

This is not the middle ages any more.  We shouldn’t behave like it.  Yet sometimes we still do (see the Chic-Fil-A nonsense going on…please quit for the luv’ of!).

When a rational human being makes an intelligent argument, we need to think about it.  We need to weigh it…and make sure our biases are not on the scale.  Weigh the idea for itself. 

It is these arguments challenging our beliefs that end up defining them.  We should welcome this kind of questioning.  See if it makes sense.  Our own beliefs will be better defined and more useful as a result.  We'll find holes and weak spots in our beliefs (this is a good thing!).  

And if we have to change some of our beliefs?  Gasp!  Change our beliefs?  In the United States?  Don’t we have a law against that?

Let’s be intelligent.  Hear the man out.  Foster good debate when good arguments arise.

For the record, after considering the arguments from both sides, I don’t believe algebra should be eliminated.  Math is the balance to English and History.  All are needed.  One is not better or more important that the others.  That’s a whole ‘nother blog.  

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