There has been a growing trend to say that Americans need less algebra education. In The Math Myth, Andrew Hacker argues that algebra and other upper-level high school mathematics like geometry and trigonometry are largely unnecessary for students and can even get in the way of students preparing for the life ahead of them. Hacker is not alone in his assessment. The chancellor of the California community college system, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, is trying to remove algebra as a requirement for non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors. This idea has been getting play in outlets from the Huffington Post to the New York Times. I don’t disagree that there are problems in mathematics and the way that it is taught. However, Hacker’s solution of simply getting rid of it (or transforming it into a practical math course) is largely throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Mathematics, at its core, is simply abstract reasoning and logic. It is what happens when you strip away all of the details, and focus on the reasoning and logic itself. Hacker suggests that there are other, more practical ways to hone reasoning skills. For instance, Hacker suggests that practicing being on a jury helps build reasoning skills that are even more practical than those of mathematics.
Now, I have no problem with training people how to use logic and reason when on a jury. However, the difference is that reasonable people can disagree over how to weigh evidence on a jury. In mathematics, we can actually show you how reasoning works concretely, definitively, and exactly, and in such a way that we can mostly evaluate your progress in this matter.
Being able to manipulate an algebraic equation is essentially the same as being able to abstractly manipulate thoughts. More.
Why are social justice warriors so focused on depriving the people they are supposedly trying to help of critical thinking skills? In an age when STEM-type skills are more important than ever.
See also: Algebra is not racist.
Nature: Stuck with a battle it dare not fight, even for the soul of science. Excuse me guys but, as in so many looming strategic disasters, the guns are facing the wrong way.