Why Algebra?

Why teach algebra? Why not teach other things that are more useful as part of a 16+ Maths qualification that all students aim for?

Well, that is a big one. A first iteration answer might be along the following lines

  • Maths is considered useful because it provides universal solutions (‘same problems, same formulas’ in the sense of Richard Feynman)
  • Maths is about connections and these connections have an inner logic
  • If you slice the subject by some notion of ‘utility’ or ‘usefulness’ what you valued has been destroyed, and students will spot the lack of coherence and reject it (Keyskills, anyone?)

It has to be said that the history of school Maths has been fairly opaque and not always related to what is important in society – for instance, graphical methods only made it onto most syllabi in the 1930s

Comments are closed.