Discussion: Algebra vs Statistics

For this discussion, we will be talking about the article Down With Algebra II! In it, the author argues that, based on a book by Andrew Hacker, algebra II should be eliminated as a required course and replaced with a class on statistics.

Let me start by saying I strongly disagree with the author that advanced algebra has little worth. If I felt that way, I wouldn’t be writing a blog to help people see how math is used. However, the discussion to be had here isn’t whether algebra is good for students to study, but rather if statistics would be better. Statistics are indeed everywhere, and many people are forced to understand things like medians or means to understand news discussions about political topics. However, is that of more worth to students than learning the abstract thinking that accompanies algebra?

What do you think? Would algebra or statistics work better as a general education course?

2 thoughts on “Discussion: Algebra vs Statistics

  1. Hi there. First, I want to preface that I teach ELA, but I almost chose to teach math. Without delving into the whys of not going into that content area, I must say that I can see where statistics holds more value for the average student realistically .We all know kids ask wen they will use [insert math topic], and I think that statistics would be an area they could see applicable to most of their lives. I’m in no way advocating for the dismissal of Algebra II, but I do think that students should be exposed to stats more than I have observed in my public school system. Statistics are useful for all, so I’d love to see that as a requirement, or at the very least, a section within an “everyday math” course. Could we also add in balancing checkbooks, too?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that statistics should be taught more. However, my concern is that the curriculum could eventually have similar problems to algebra if people aren’t careful. Balancing a checkbook is a good example of this. That isn’t even algebra, but arithmetic. Students should be learning that very early on, but lessons teach math only in the abstract and don’t connect it to reality. A statistics course that only focused on the mechanics and not on the applications may also feel pointless and confusing, but if we are going to design a statistics course that avoids that, why can’t we do the same for an algebra course? So I will admit that I am a little torn.

      But regardless, more statistics would be a good thing because of how pervasive it is. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit surprised that it wasn’t required by more high schools and/or colleges.

      Like

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