Hacker doesn’t think we should burden kids with algebra and higher-level math classes in high school because most won’t use it later in life. He’d prefer teachers stick to the basics, the things you need to know to do your taxes and plan a budget and… basically all the things computers can already do. Only students who need to specialize in math for their careers, he says, ought to take classes like trigonometry and calculus.
Cindy Long at the National Education Association wrote an article about the controversy that gives a nice overview of both sides. She reached out to me and some of my thoughts are included in there as well:
“I don’t blame students for focusing on what they think they need to know, but the whole point of a high school education is to immerse yourself in different subjects before you specialize in any one of them,” Mehta explains. “You never know what your future will hold, so it’s to your benefit to learn as much as possible. It’s up to teachers to understand and explain the bigger picture of how a particular topic fits into the broader mathematical world.”
Feel free to chime in on the debate over there.
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