There’s a pretty compelling argument in the New York Times this morning that requiring algebra (and higher math more broadly) of all students is unnecessary and even detrimental. The author reports that discouragement about math is the top academic contributor to drop-out rates, and I’m sure all of us have learned the dirty secret by now: virtually no one solves quadratic equations in the workplace.
I say this as someone who was always good at math — in fact, I often regret not continuing on with Calc II in college, and I’ll occasionally read up on math for fun. (A few years ago, for instance, I read David Berlinski’s Tour of the Calculus, which tied up a major loose end for me: why integrals and derivatives cancel each other out. I guess we would’ve gotten to that in Calc II.) To me, it seems to make more sense to make such topics available and let people with natural aptitude and inclination find their way to it, rather than drilling it into everyone.
What do you think, readers?