I don't think Algebra is necessary for the following reasons:

- It can be learned online or by reading the right books.
- The way algebra is taught is terrible: they make you learn boring theorems and theory out of context, rather than making you discover algebra through your own research.

Unfortunately, education tries to kill artistic talent in kids (it failed with me) and algebra is one of the medicines used for that purpose.

Also the curriculum would greatly benefit from discussing applications and fun facts (such as 1+3, 1+3+5, 1+3+5+7 etc. is always a square), history or modern problems (such as the 4-color theorem, or the fact that every integer can be written as the sum of 4 squares, but not three), ultra-fast convergent series for Pi and its application in finding related magic numbers and cryptography or creation of good random generators (and discuss why Excel is bad at that)

If the only maths that I ever had was from high school classes, I would hate mathematics. Ironically, during the algebra and math classes, I never listened to the teacher, but instead did my own research which was much more advanced than classroom algebra. Not that I was smarter than other kids, but different, and fascinated by some stuff I read in well written mainstream math books, and technical books from other countries (Russia) putting an emphasis on different topics such as continued fractions or inequalities, in some exciting ways.

**The root causes for the failure of algebra / math teaching are**

- The school system is very bureaucratic. It attracts teachers who can survive in this big bureaucracy (I could not): these teachers are very different from mainstream people, the school staff is not diversified enough and the system tends to eliminate the more creative people. Maybe that's why "math" is always associated with "geek" in US (although not in Europe) - but it does not have to be that way.
- Even at the University level, very few students learn or discover applied maths and the fun facts / interesting topics mentioned above (continued fractions, sums of squares etc.) As a result, these topics - that could spark interest in algebra for high school kids - are not taught in high school.
- People who know how to get kids interested in maths are sometimes (always?) anti-bureaucratic, highly paid individuals (because they know how to apply analytics in many different contexts and are highly sought experts with both broad and deep math knowledge). Also, they might have very poor teaching skills, though they could improve on that. As a result, they would never accept a job as a math teacher, and they might even be turned down if they applied! But they could help curriculum developers in a consulting role.

Related article: How maths should be taught in high school

Anyway, **here's the New York Times article**:

A TYPICAL American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.

My question extends beyond algebra and applies more broadly to the usual mathematics sequence, from geometry through calculus. State regents and legislators — and much of the public — take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.

There are many defenses of algebra and the virtue of learning it. Most of them sound reasonable on first hearing; many of them I once accepted. But the more I examine them, the clearer it seems that they are largely or wholly wrong — unsupported by research or evidence, or based on wishful logic. (I’m not talking about quantitative skills, critical for informed citizenship and personal finance, but a very different ballgame.)

Read full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessa...

## You need to be a member of AnalyticBridge to add comments!

Join AnalyticBridge