Can You Teach Algebra and Still Be a Good Human?

I read two moving items in the SF Chronicle today: the column: by Callie Millner, highlights the good that can come from embracing educating ourselves about Kwanzaa. I had no idea that the seven candles used during Kwanzaa stood for following seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. 

and the article: about local photographer, Lisa Krisitne, who travels the world photographing the atrocious reality that slavery still exists, everywhere. Even. Here.

So why is a Math Blogger compelled to write about being moved by reading humanitarian articles? Because I want to know how I, as an Algebra teacher (this year), contribute to 
A) Helping students become better humans and B) Saving the Planet? I am sick of my own lame answers, "  

Fawn from answered her own question: Is Algebra necessary? Yes she says with great eloquence and aplomb. Loved that. 

So I went out on my own search to find the answer, and not the same ones I use to "rationalize my existence so I don't have to think about it" like: What happens if you don't make the team? and My friend R. lost his index finger in a construction accident, now what? (I do have my own, more enduring believes...those later.)

I took a random sample from a cross section of friends: 

From RJE, JD, Advertising Exec, NY:

We don't need algebra. In fact, as the world becomes more complex, simple questions like 'what does x equal' become even more superfluous.
HOWEVER, what we do need is what algebra leads its students to.
-the ability to nourish their curiosity;
-the desire to think and solve and feel the gratification of an answer that is finite and within ones grasp
-the opportunity to recognize that while some problems are unsolvable, algebra teaches us that some are very solvable.
-in other words, algebra is a tool of building self esteem, of enjoying solvability, of celebrating the fact that while so much of life is beyond comprehension...other parts are delightfully finite!

(By the way, I got 100% on my algebra regents exam, and 800 on my math sat test.
I live for algebra!)

From Judy, MA, Foundation Board Exec, Magazine Contributor, and Movement Educator:

As a movement teacher, it is clear to me that everything we do requires learning patterns that are body-mind related.

If nothing else,the process of learning Algebra gives us exposure to ways of thinking and that is a "patterning" of conceptual influence.

So is the question Why do we need to KNOW Algebra, or how can we best facilitate mathematical patterns of thinking, doing and knowing so education becomes a source to facilitate and lead forth the greatest capacity for that child and thus our society?

More as they stroll in...hopefully they will...

How do you teach Algebra and still be a good human?

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1 comment :

  1. Hey Ms. Z,

    I tackled this question in my blog as well, back in August. Have a look if you want another perspective on what Algebra is good for. (I'm really not just trying to get extra traffic to my blog; it's just that my answer is embedded in a story much to long to recount here.)



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