Skip to main content

View Diary: The algebra formula that saved an industry (258 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Math, essential. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misreal, Larsstephens, eaglekid85va

    Algebra?  Not so much.  Having Algebra as required causes more drop outs than any other school requirement in the admittedly anecdotal evidence I've seen through my own children struggling through high school.

    I will not believe that every person in the United States needs to know algebra in order to graduate High School.  The difference in earning potential for a high school dropout and a high school graduate is essentially the same as the difference in a GRADE school dropout and a high school graduate.  

    For the love of god we've GOT to start making high school more functional for our kids.  Less requirements of subjects like Algebra for every single student, more options for fundamental skills and even, yes, vocational training.

    A kid who can solve a quadratic vs. a kid who can balance their checkbook... I'll take the second, please, in 95% of all cases.

    :: Not so hopeful now ::

    by Rick Aucoin on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 11:48:20 AM PDT

    •  but you present a false dichotomy (7+ / 0-)

      A kid who can solve a quadratic vs. a kid who can balance their checkbook... I'll take the second, please, in 95% of all cases.

      Fact is, the kid who can solve the quadratic will not only be able to balance the checkbook, probably better than the one who can't, but will be able to balance it substantially faster, because of the innate understanding of arithmetic afforded those who can understand the algebra.

      And the solvers will far outpace the nonsolvers in discovering the error if one occurs.

    •  How many people who don't know algebra (7+ / 0-)

      are going to grok compound interest? Especially where credit cards are concerned?

      Algebra is probably the most real world functional math there is.

      •  I failed my algebra classes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        and I work in a budget shop doing things even more exotic than compound interest.  Algebra classes are taught quite badly.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 02:12:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  math courses (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Larsstephens

          ...are taught by math professors/teachers who pound the rote memorization and very poorly constructed "word problems" which don't engage the brain well.

          They SHOULD be taught using a combination of pure math and "not hockey/dumb" real world application examples.  

          A left-of-center blow-harded member of the goose-stepping blog-stapo since 2004.

          by floundericiousMI on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 02:24:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  yep. wasn't presented in a way that was (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Larsstephens

          relevant.

          my favorite example is that problem with one train northbound going 60mph and the same track southbound going 60mph - what is speed on impact.

          i never did know that answer until i was in my 40s - i was always too concerned on how to get off that bloody train and survive!  if i started running toward the rear cars, would i have sufficient time to make it far enough back that the accordion effect wouldn't get me between cars or would i be thrown forward or would the front cars overturn if i couldn't run fast enough... or should i jump - because if i jumped, like the british buses, there was a forward force that would put me toward the cars accordioning TOWARD where i landed - and what would the force on impact be as i landed.....

          well, when i was in my forties, i found out both answers:  two trains collided somewhere in the northeast and both engineers jumped and survived  and the answer is 120.  (was telling this story to someone who looked at me and quietly said "120" - and i said "WHAAA?"  HE said, add the numbers together and you've got the answer.  120.

          duh!  almost 40 years and not ONE single person had ever been able to teach me that!  SO, my theory is that you  make math applicable to real life and if someone is focused on a different aspect of the problem, enlarge what you teach!  (think vectoring, force, etc.)

          i really DO love math... from a distance!

          "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." ~Mahatma Gandhi

          by edrie on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 02:59:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  grok? Anyways, I don't know a lick of algebra (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        and I can find out the interest on my credit card purchases by using arithmetic. I won't say algebra isn't important, but not everybody needs to know it.

        "Progress is possible. Don't give up on voting. Don't give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done." - Barack Obama

        by eaglekid85va on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 02:51:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Rec'd for grok. :) nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aexia

        :: Not so hopeful now ::

        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 10:21:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It is not the higher end of algebra, (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, Sychotic1, Tuba Les, profh, kurt, condorcet

      but rather the ability to take in data, organize it logically, and then set up the correct relationships.  That is why "word problems" - whether they were basic arithmetic, algebra, or calculus are always the hardest.  You have to "see" the relationships in order to set up the problem for solution.

      In my line of work I can't tell you how many times somebody "solves an equation" or "does the math" and comes up with - to anybody who understands what the numbers are meant to represent - an absolutely ridiculous answer.  If you can't tie the numbers back to some actual reality you are dealing with you can be seriously misled.

      •  heh... just wrote about that above. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        funny how i can always get to the right solution - not necessarily by using the standard "rules" but in the end, it's correct.  

        i also can look at numbers and immediately "know" there is something wrong with them - subconscious processing maybe, but i am never wrong when i say "the numbers don't match!"

        whether it is banking, billed statements, auto sale computations, i just "know" that the numbers don't
        "add up" and if you give me a paper and pen, i'll show you where it breaks apart!

        and this from a "kid" who could barely get through math in highschool and college!

        "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." ~Mahatma Gandhi

        by edrie on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 03:02:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think this .... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          i also can look at numbers and immediately "know" there is something wrong with them - subconscious processing maybe, but i am never wrong when i say "the numbers don't match!"

          is somehow related to understanding the numbers (in the contexts that most of us deal with) are representations of real things and real relationships.  So when (just as an example) you get an answer that suggests that the time delay between event one and event two is say two hours, you have the ability to take that and integrate it with your real life experience - which might be highly inconsistent with that number.  So - "the numbers don't match" - and off you go to find out whether it is faulty math or faulty assumptions.

          You have a very valuable skill.

          •  i'm really lucky - i don't always know (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens

            why at first but am persistent enough to keep digging to find the answer.  it drives me nuts when numbers don't justify!

            biggest argument i ever had with sprint was over a 63 and change discrepancy in the bill.  finally they "offered" to "give" me $50 and i flatly refused.  i said to them, you don't "get" to just make this go away - you need to find out where the error is.  it took three months to finally find out there was an extra line being billed to my account after i cancelled an air card.

            soon as we found out, i changed companies.  they don't "get" to be cavalier about the numbers.  

            my former employer incorrectly reported my earnings to unemployment (two employers ago) - i've been fighting like mad to get it corrected because the ramification is huge.  they underreport - pay less in payroll taxes, where does that money go? into whose pocket did the difference disappear?  (with that company, i already know the answer).  and with many employees (over 100), how much total does that add up in a year, two, ten - compounded.

            i loved the movie "office space" JUST for the exposure of what a penny or two diverted over widespread accounts can add up to and how quickly.

            well, my former employer is in for a very unpleasant surprise... he's been caught - and, if i'm not wrong, that spells fraud!

            "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." ~Mahatma Gandhi

            by edrie on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 03:47:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I feel sorry for every student who cannot handle (0+ / 0-)

      a basic Alegbra question.  They will be handicaped for life by having a low paying job.  This low paying job will also have small amounts of retirement for the retirement years.

      •  Feel more sorry for... (0+ / 0-)

        ... the ones who drop out of high school due to the continuing sense of failure doled out to them in repeated Algebra classes.

        They have the earning potential of someone who dropped out in grade school.  That's the difference in High School Grad and High School dropout.

        :: Not so hopeful now ::

        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 10:23:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site