Friday, October 10, 2014
To Algebra or Not to Algebra
Why is this meme so right on target?
The whole system is structured around imposing, not exposing. I'm all for exposing, but exposure to algebra without context just doesn't produce all that many lovers, or even appreciators, of algebra, any more than you can really love a hammer before you know that it hits a nail that holds boards together.
Also, a system organized around "just in case" or "it's for your own good" learning finds that the sheer quantity of things kids "may need to know someday" pushes out the things that kids might really want to know right now, to such a degree that by high school so many kids look at learning as an annoying chore, something that is being done to them.
Let's not forget that we don't have that "expose" system right now, we don't give kids a taste of algebra, we give them a whole damn year of it. Learning that is forced pushes out the ideas that can be developed into real meaningful learning...and that will most definitely include algebra, as soon as a kid figures out that it is a key to what he or she wants to do.
What we lose with this approach is more tragic than what we lose if we stop teaching kids stuff they might need someday.