# Does 'Algebra for Everyone' Add Up?

It doesn't add up for 1 simple reason: Most teachers cannot explain it clearly. Here's the problem. In basic math we can see that 1+1=2. We have examples of it, we can visualize it. We cannot visualize (m^4-2)(m-2). That's just a bunch of letters and numbers and can mean anything. Most people (kids and adults) cannot understand something if we cannot see it. If we can't make it mean something in the real world then it's confusing to us.

In a nutshell that's the problem with Algebra.

I think exposure to algebra at a young age adds to

critical thinking and better success to those who need it later.

My children all did books called "Elementay Algebra for Elementary Schools" and loved them and all found higher levels easy. So, thumbs up to exposure as young as possible.

D Gillam -- what city in California have you taught in? Please see my website... http://www.elemental-learning.com Thanks!

You are so right. As a former educator I saw too often that parents were relying on the school to provide the bedrock of the educational experience for their children. Those parents have it backwards: It begins at home. Parents who look to abdicate this responsibility do their children an injustice.

Good post, but have you thought about Does 'Algebra for Everyone' Add Up before?

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I have taught ninth grade Algebra I for seven years in California. I have tried every strategy I can think of to make Algebra understandable, interesting, and relevant. The hard, cold truth is that unless I can go home and enforce homework policy on over 130 students every day, around 50% of my students will fail every year. I tell my students that math is like a sport, if you don't practice, you will not remember the plays for the big game. I call home, but nothing changes. Some students never do homework. It is so discouraging to watch students who could pass the class, throw their grade away due to apathy and disinterest in the subject. Several others here have already identified the reason Algebra policy is doomed to failure in this country, American parents, who may have struggled with Math themselves, make excuses for their children. It will take at least one generation of extremely well taught students to cycle through and set high expectations for their children before we will make gains on the world. Enforcing eighth grade Algebra is putting the cart before the horse. It must start in elementary school with highly trained teachers and strict remediation policies. Then as students are ready for the Algebra, we can place them in the course.

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Our daughter is in the 7th grade, at age 12. She didn't do as well as we'd liked in regular 6th grade math, but chose to have her do pre-algebra anyway. She likes the challenge it presents and is catching on to it pretty well. Our son, 3rd grade, at age 8, however, is flying through it in his curriculum. He only needs to see an example a few times and off he goes. Of course, in the 3rd grade, we're only touching on it and not getting too in-debth. But if I didn't fear it hurting our daughter's pride, I would venture to say that he would continue to sail on through pre-algebra, with a bit help from us.

So it depends on the child and whether they've been allowed to adjust to the different levels of math throughout their schooling. That's just my 2-cents' worth!!

As a teacher of Algebra I in the 8th grade for the last 18 years I ask myself, why do we want everyone to talk algebar at this age? Many students are not mathematically mature enough to understand the concepts that are tausht in Algebra I and have not yet mastered the basic skills required for 8th grade math...for what purpose, if students are forced to take Algebra I as an 8th grader are we going to add another course for them to take in high school or require them 5 years of math...one of the worst things that can happen is for a student to "finish the required math" during their Junior year and coast thru the Senior year without any math classes. These are the students that are getting to college ill prepared for college math courses and are having to take additional remedial, non-credit courses in mathematics when they get to college. If they were required to have 4 years of math and began in the 9th grade with Algebra I, they would be much better prepared for college.

Why are people so insistent on early algebra, for those students that are not planning on majoring in a math intensive degree or graduating early from high school there is not purpose in 8th grade algebra. At our school it has become somewhat ofa status symbol and a way to "keep kids away from the discipline problems."

If a student is not ready for the rigor of Algebra I they should not be required to take it as an 8th grader!!