Math Class

Friday, December 18, 2009

Community colleges can be key for those seeking to escape low wage jobs -- but passing math requirements can be a big challenge. Beth Fertig, WNYC reporter and author of Why cant U teach me 2 read?, followed LaGuardia Community College professor Jorge A. Perez’ remedial algebra class this semester for the series, Adding It Up.


Beth Fertig and Jorge A. Perez

Comments [25]

Ping from jersey city

I think math is weak in the US because too many people cry about things like memorizing multiplication tables. Meanwhile other countries like Russia, China, Japan are running circles around us.

I think everyone should learn at least algebra and geometry. I also think every high school should teach basic probability and statistics competently in high school. Those are useful for nearly every career.

Also it is useful to be exposed to a subject to know that it is there and to know what problems it can solve even if you won't have the occasion to use it in life. For the same reason why I had to take English literature.

Dec. 18 2009 08:40 PM
John A. from Westchester

My dad drilled me on the multiplication tables when driving himself to work and me to school. That acted as a springboard to many, many things.
Useful to this day. Such a simple thing to say, but I encourage all to keep up on this if you don't have it.
Number one use today is getting calories per package out of calories per serving, HA, but there are many more important uses too.

Dec. 18 2009 11:54 AM
Fabio Girelli-Carasi from Montclair, NJ

Re Geometry. My impression is that it is the single most despised subject in school, bar none.
No wonder: the US measuring system is so complex and intricate that it would discourage but the most mathematically inclined. With the adoption of the METRIC SYSTEM the instinctive antipathy for geometry would be largely gone. In fact, given the intrinsic concreteness of geometry, it is much easier to comprehend and handle than arithmetics, algebra and all the other more abstract disciplines.

Dec. 18 2009 11:52 AM
Dave from Brooklyn

A little distressed to hear that tutor talk about "multiplication tables"...that rote memorization was never a good way to teach kids to think. We're in trouble either way, though, I think. Last week I tried to pass on some percentage shortcuts to my niece, like to get you cut the number in half and then cut that number in half. It took her about ten minutes to work out 25% of $30.

This started because I was teasing her about the intentional mispellings teens use in texts, which she feels are a sort of kid code. For instance, she'll spell honey as h-u-n-n-i, "...even though I know it's spelled h-u-n-n-y." Sheesh.

Dec. 18 2009 11:52 AM
Diane from Caldwell NJ

I use math every day: in the kitchen with adapting recipes; in business as to figure out how to target a specific group for a marketing plan, for constructing budgets (and my budgets come within 1-3% of actuals, for looking at the marketing implications of research results. It is impossible not to use it all the time

Dec. 18 2009 11:47 AM

If you do any investing or programming you have to use statistics and probably some calculus too, if you do programming relating to investing, doubly so.

Dec. 18 2009 11:47 AM
Kevin from Brooklyn

Whenever I go out to dinner with friends no one else can figure out tip without a cell phone.

Dec. 18 2009 11:46 AM
Dominic from London

I use math both indirectly and directly in my everyday life. I use it directly as I'm switch careers to become a math professor. Indirectly, I find much of the algebra being very useful as a software developer, as I find it helps me see the relationship and patterns between seemingly different things. I feel Pr. Perez is spot-on when he says math is a beautiful languages, and I feel that everything can benefit learning it form a 'native' speaker.

Dec. 18 2009 11:46 AM
Danielle from Washington Heights

I was in the unique situation of having taken Advanced and AP english, spanish, and history classes, at the same time as being in the lowest level math classes. (I also had to take that darned remedial math class in my 4 year college...twice.) Looking back, I see how my math teachers always taught us the bare minimum and so I worked to that level. I always wondered "what is algebra". If someone had told me that math was developed to discover the proportions of the universe, as I learned as an adult studying philosophy, I would have viewed the entire math class experience a lot differently.

Dec. 18 2009 11:46 AM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Years ago, I heard an interview on NPR with a Nobel Prize winning economist who said he studied the subject because he wasn't very good at math but wanted to go into one of the sciences. His guidance counselor recommended economics because there was little math involved. True story.

Dec. 18 2009 11:45 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So is math anxiety a candidate for inclusion in the DSM-V when it comes out?

Dec. 18 2009 11:44 AM
Julia from Skillman, NJ

I do believe that people use algebra in everyday life. If anyone can tell me that they don't use additive and multiplicative properties in their everyday lives, I would be very surprised. How about planning a trip and allocating the amount of time and fuel you will need to complete this trip? Also algebra. What if you are planning to do some renovations to your home and you need to plan what the costs for the materials that you need? Algebra for the costs/geometry for the ability to ascertain what exactly is needed.

Dec. 18 2009 11:43 AM
Chris from New York

Do high school math teachers need to be certified and trained to teach math? How is it determined that an individual is qualified enough to teach math well to teenagers?

If this is not already done, perhaps h.s. math teachers should go through a certification or special training program to teach math?

Dec. 18 2009 11:43 AM
Sara from brooklyn

Algebra is basic problem solving. I;m a PAINTER and I use is all the time. not only for design stuff, but in my everyday life.

Dec. 18 2009 11:42 AM
Ashton from Chelsea, Manhattan

I majored in Math in college in 1955-59 (I'm 70 years old, now) and even had a year of graduate study towards an MS. I never used my higher math training for anything and realized that I began to lose interest in math in grad school. Nevertheless, for me, the most important skills I developed with all of my math studying were (1) The ability to think with abstract ideas and concepts; and (2) The ability to think logically. Also, key to coping with math is the basic ability to read and comprehend.

Dec. 18 2009 11:42 AM
Alexander Heilner from Brooklyn

I took a lot of math in high school, including an AP-level course and exam senior year. I'm 38 now, and I've never used any of that advanced algebra or calculus since I was 18; and I suspect my experience is similar to most people who don't continue into scientific careers.

BUT... What I DO encounter - every single day - are decisions about statistics and risk assessment which were rarely if ever addressed in real-world terms in math class. Perhaps these are the applied uses of math that would be more useful, and therefore more interesting, to most high school and college students.

Dec. 18 2009 11:39 AM
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Enjoy your holidays folks

Dec. 18 2009 11:38 AM
Jenn from Upper East Side

I'm shocked that people are trying to get an accounting degree and don't consider math skills to be fundamental!

Dec. 18 2009 11:37 AM
Chris from New York

I know several students in local community colleges that are being prevented from graduating because they can't pass math. Some have taken these math classes several times! Seriously, why do these students have to take math if the career they are going into doesn't require them to know it???

***I graduated from a top private university & never took math. Yet I am gainfully employed, happy with my job, and never once needed to know more than basic math. Ever! What a waste and discouragement it is for these kids.

Dec. 18 2009 11:36 AM
steve from Brooklyn

I'm an epidemiologist, and I've worked in medical technologies for 10 years. You absolutely need math to use any of the machines you see in a modern hospital and the more math you know the better you are at your job. I use math everyday and I use algebra!

As an aside, med tech is great carrier for a young man with an Associates Degree who may be interested in medicine but perhaps doesn't see himself as a nurse.

Dec. 18 2009 11:35 AM
Caroline from Jersey City

I absolutely use math every day of my life. I may not have had much use for calculus, but the ability to solve for X has been invaluable everywhere from the office to the kitchen.

Dec. 18 2009 11:34 AM
Mike C. from Tribeca

I went to college in the seventies, and didn't have to take a single math course. Neither did my wife nor my best friend.

Dec. 18 2009 11:34 AM
Tony Meola from Manhattan

Not only do I use my algebra, but I use my trig as well. I work on Broadway shows.

Dec. 18 2009 11:33 AM
ted from manhattan



when we have to concentrate so much on these heinous state tests, we have no time for passion. the passion of teaching has been stripped by the tests. we have no time to go into the joy of a subject when we have to teach to a test not to the beauty and passion of a subject.

passion? bah humbug.

publishers and educational leaders have stripped the joy and passion of teaching from our schools.


Dec. 18 2009 10:00 AM
a woman from inwood

I nearly failed algebra. My parents got me a tutor for geometry. I enjoyed her insights and got very high marks. Then I failed trig, having dropped the tutor. I decided math wasn't for me. Years later I met a mathematician, who showed me the beauty of math, and it changed my world. If you have a teacher who loves his/her subject, he WILL teach you, and you WILL learn. If you have a teacher who just teaches a course learned by rote, who has no idea what math really means, you'll hate math. Math is considered a language skill in IQ tests, did you know that? It's a beautiful language. Unfortunately there are very few teachers teaching their passion out there.

Dec. 18 2009 09:18 AM

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