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In defense of algebra

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Posted: Monday, January 12, 2004 10:00 pm

Do you use algebra and don't know it?

Consider these three very simple beginning Algebra formulas.

A x B= C

C / B = A

C / A = C

Then compare them to the examples of the kind of real life math News-Sentinel Editor Richard Hanner suggested was important is his opinion column Saturday.

House Cost x Percent Down = Dollars Down

Dollars Down / Percent Down = Cost

Dollars Down / House Cost = Percent Down

Cost Hamburger / Servings = Cost per Serving

Cost Chicken / Servings = Cost per Serving

Then take a slightly longer yet not really complicated algebraic formula like A + B - C - D = E and apply it to Richard Hanner's other example of balancing a check book.

Bank Balance + Outstanding Deposits - Outstanding Checks - Check Book Balance = Difference (hopefully = 0)

I don't know how algebra is taught today, so maybe they need to rethink how it is presented. Maybe there needs to more emphasis on the kind of real-life everyday problems we have to solve.

Ratios, proportions, percentages and comparisons are a few that come to mind. All of these are solved with algebra. I can't count how many times I have heard intelligent people like Richard Hanner say they don't really understand algebra and have no need for it.

So Lodi Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett: How about a new course (based on algebra) emphasizing these everyday problems?

And maybe Mr. Hanner along with some journalism students can even come up with a new name that would not be so intimidating.

Tony Trassare


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