Algebra receives a lot of attacks nowadays. Most students believe that algebra is useless and should be dropped in school.

Such sentiments lead many people to question algebra’s importance, provoking vigorous debate among educators.

Some argue that it is an unnecessary stumbling block that hinders many learners from graduating. Let’s understand if this math topic is essential.

Why is algebra useless?

The main argument for algebra being useless is that it is barely used in real life. Andrew Hacker, a political analyst, and a professor emeritus at Queens College argues that algebra II leads to massive high school dropouts.

It’s a stumbling block to most learners from achieving their career goals. Students are forced to understand algebra, and they’ll rarely need the knowledge later in life. 

Hacker further argues that doctors, accountants, and coders are forced to master this math unit which they never apply in their work. He says that less than 5% of careers demand algebra skills.

Other educators inform that other math courses, such as statistics and calculus, are more important in everyday life than algebra skills.

Classes in finance and business are more tailored to the modern world, making algebra redundant. They insist that excelling in this world doesn’t require any algebraic knowledge.

Why is algebra useful?

Despite the backlash against algebra, this math course is crucial. This topic helps us solve math problems more quickly.

Algebra adds more skills to basic math; without it, learners would struggle to solve specific math problems.

The skills learned in algebra help students grasp and solve complex math concepts that are tedious if you were to use basic math. You cannot plot graphs with basic math; you’ll need algebraic concepts.

Algebra is the building block to comprehending more complex math topics such as calculus and statistics.

Mathematics builds upon itself, so it is critical to understand basic concepts before you dive into more complex math.

Algebraic mastery helps students grasp calculus and statistics. The two complex math topics are crucial to most real-world applications, especially in science, engineering, medicine, computer modeling, finance, and many others. 

Algebra helps develop critical and logical thinking skills. Using equations and patterns forces students to think logically and critically to express and visualize math problems in correct models and arithmetic to find solutions.

Algebra trains the brain to see patterns and identify relationships even in complex situations. A student can simplify complicated and dynamic concepts through critical and logical thinking into more manageable and easier-to-solve concepts. 

Is algebra needed in everyday life?

The beauty of algebra is that it can be used in everyday life. Algebraic concepts are used in daily activities even without realizing it. It’s a universal tool used to manage day-to-day problems. 

Cooking is one instance where you unknowingly use algebraic concepts. Cooking is an art that requires careful combinations of ingredients to make savory meals.

When following a recipe, you’ll have to find the correct quantity of ingredients to make enough food for the required servings.

Automatically, algebraic intelligence helps you calculate how much is needed for the perfect meal.

In sports, players unintentionally use their algebraic intelligence to play well. For example, soccer players will calculate the force they need to hit a ball and its trajectory for an accurate pass or to score a goal.

Similarly, track sprinters estimate the required speed to reach a certain distance. In every sport, an athlete will inadvertently use algebraic skills to excel at the sport.

A business owner will also use algebraic concepts to manage their business. Essentially, they need to calculate risk, profit, losses, and interest, among other things, to carry out financial decisions.

Exchange and interest rates are often expressed algebraically, making it necessary to have mastered algebra. 

In some way, algebra is universally employed in everyday activities. It helps us manage daily problems. 

Why is algebra even taught?

Algebra serves a crucial purpose as a foundation for complex math. Algebraic intelligence helps students grasp more complicated concepts in statistics and calculus.

It teaches students to solve complex problems using multiple variables, data interpretation, measurements, and equations, making algebra an essential building block of complex mathematics.

Algebra also equips students with logical and critical thinking skills. These reasoning skills help students excel in technical careers. Furthermore, algebraic intelligence is unintentionally applied in everyday activities. 

Final thoughts

There’s a vigorous debate calling for algebra courses to be scrapped from high school. They argue that this math topic is a non-essential stumbling block that blocks most students from college admission.

However, algebra is crucial as it develops reasoning skills and is a building block to challenging courses in statistics and calculus.

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