Put algebra where it belongs (and not in school)

It’s not very popular to criticize the existence of traditional subjects in the curriculum, especially not mathematics. Nevertheless, more and more freely thinking people are doing just that. Maybe this is part of a (too) slow, but major rethinking of our education system, maybe not.

A few days ago Andrew Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York wrote an article in NYT, saying among other things: ”It would be far better to reduce, not expand, the mathematics we ask young people to imbibe.” Hacker is however fairly traditional, not an edupunk or a revolutionary like Ivan Illich or the former Yale professor Roger Schank who says: ”I gave up being part of the Education system so I could begin to change it.” and ”We must stop this. Stop teaching children that math matters when it does not. Math in these tests means algebra, trigonometry and such, which almost never come up in anyone’s life.”

None of these people of course claim that mathematics or language is useless, on the contrary. They claim that teaching these kinds of subjects the way it has been done for more than a century is ineffective and also devastating for the motivation for a large part of pupils/students. For that small percent that really need mathematics, chemistry in their further studies, another way of learning would probably be more effective.

I share their opinion.

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