Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
Is Algebra Really Necessary?
Monday, August 26, 2013 - 05:07 PM
Writer Nicholson Baker asks a simple question in next month's issue of Harper's Magazine: “Why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”
During an interview with WNYC's Leonard Lopate last week, Baker discussed his article, "Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II." He explains how the "great art" was founded in Baghdad in the 1500, and why it became part of the high school curriculum. A study found students who take Algebra II have higher incomes.
But Nicholson argued that this correlation that has more to do with the degrees those students pursue in college, and that this higher level of algebra it isn't for everyone. He says high schools "should confront that" because their aim isn't to make everyone good at the same thing, but to "lodge a few life enriching nuggets and knowledge" into students' heads.
"There are lots of things you can do in life that don't use math," he said.
Do you agree with his provocative statement? Or do you side with those who say math is increasingly important in the 21st century economy? Listen to the segment by clicking the link above.
And check out WNYC's 2009 series on a remedial class at LaGuardia Community College, where students debated this same topic.
Part 2: How to Keep an A