The Leonard Lopate Show

Learning Algebra from Cartoons

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Cartoon Guide to Algebra is designed to help students understand and learn the core mathematical course taught in American schools, using engaging graphics and lively humor.

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Is Algebra Really Necessary?

Monday, August 26, 2013

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?”

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Do We Really Need to Learn Algebra?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nicholson Baker makes a case against requiring algebra 2 and asks “why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”

During his conversation with Leonard brought up a 2002 survey that found a very high correlation between people who took and succeeded algebra 2 and those who made money and were successful later in life. Baker said, “It isn’t more than a statistical correlation, but people pounced on this and said, my god! Algebra 2! It’s the mystic door! If we force every child go through this door successfully, if we make them do it and we make them succeed, then they’ll all be above average and the world will be a better place.” But he argues, that making it a requirement for everyone for college admission is “not just a waste of time but a real source of suffering for many people.” Baker noted that it shouldn't be removed entirely from the high school curriculum, but that it shouldn't be required for every student, especially for otherwise good students who are struggling to pass it. "I think kids should be compelled to take some you get a sense of what's out there and whether you have a head for it," he said.

Many callers and commenters defended algebra, saying it teaches problem-solving and intellectual discipline, but a number of people agree with Baker that not every student should be forced to take algebra 2 if they're struggling to pass it.

Nicholson Baker's article “Wrong Answer” is in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

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Before Dropping Algebra, Fix Math Education

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In an opinion article in response to a recent New York Times essay, a parent writes: "Before dropping algebra in favor of more ‘useful’ mathematics, we would do well to first examine how we deliver and assess the most fundamental aspects of math education."

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The Takeaway

In Defense of Algebra

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College New York, recently proclaimed on The Takeaway that the age old belief that "algebra and mathematics generally sharpens our mind…[is] total fiction." Many of our listeners disagreed.

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The Takeaway

All Calculators and No Brains: The Pros and Cons to High School Algebra

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In his recent editorial for our partner the New York Times, professor Andrew Hacker asks “is Algebra necessary?” The millions of high school students and college freshmen taking mandatory mathematics, he argues, aren’t actually learning much aside from tapping those calculators.

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Adding It Up

Friday, December 18, 2009

(photo by Stephen Nessen)

Community colleges are playing a growing role in American higher education. They’re taking more students than ever, due to the weak economy and the high cost of four-year colleges. But ...

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'Adding it Up' Part 4: How They Scored

Thursday, December 17, 2009

(photo by Stephen Nessen)

Getting out of remedial math is a two-step process at CUNY’s community colleges. Students have to get a 60% average in their class, and they have to pass an assessment known as COMPASS.

At LaGuardia Community College, 32 ...

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