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Help me define Algebra

Bannanawamajama
Posts: 125
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7/18/2013 10:56:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Ok some guy on Opinions asked whether Algebra is necessary to learn in High School. I ended up debating with some other guy about it because he doesn't think its important. I fervently believe that basic algebra is something that essentially everyone DOES use in their life, but I am having trouble convincing this guy.

The main issue is he doesn't think anything that doesn't involve "x = " is algebra. That means no word problems, no real life applications, no nothing is considered algebra to him. So yes, I can understand why with that mindset it seems pointless, but obviously that isn't the case. I wanted to tell him that algebra isn't that narrow and specific, that its just symbolic and represents broader things than theoretical arithmetic, but he has a dictonary definition that says algebra is math with letters, so he won't listen to me.

Its not really my problem or even my buisness, but I feel like I need to try to convince him. I don't want this guy to decide that taking a basic math class isn't worth his time and blowing it off, and later on not be able to figure out how loans work or whatever because he didn't care. How do I explain what algebra really is and why you actually should learn it?
slo1
Posts: 4,361
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7/19/2013 10:52:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/18/2013 10:56:06 PM, Bannanawamajama wrote:
Ok some guy on Opinions asked whether Algebra is necessary to learn in High School. I ended up debating with some other guy about it because he doesn't think its important. I fervently believe that basic algebra is something that essentially everyone DOES use in their life, but I am having trouble convincing this guy.

The main issue is he doesn't think anything that doesn't involve "x = " is algebra. That means no word problems, no real life applications, no nothing is considered algebra to him. So yes, I can understand why with that mindset it seems pointless, but obviously that isn't the case. I wanted to tell him that algebra isn't that narrow and specific, that its just symbolic and represents broader things than theoretical arithmetic, but he has a dictonary definition that says algebra is math with letters, so he won't listen to me.

Its not really my problem or even my buisness, but I feel like I need to try to convince him. I don't want this guy to decide that taking a basic math class isn't worth his time and blowing it off, and later on not be able to figure out how loans work or whatever because he didn't care. How do I explain what algebra really is and why you actually should learn it?

I saw a nice article that made a nice point. It asked the question of how many of us have gleefully said or heard someone proudly proclaim that they are bad with math. Then it pointed how shameful it is for people to proclaim they are bad with reading or can't read.

There is a big discrepancy between the feeling of not reading and not being able to perform math.

For your purpose, algebra is way to wide of a scope to get a good definition. I think the most common type of algebra that everyone has to know is linear algebra, which is the study of dependent and independent variables and how they relate to each other.

These things would be impossible to do without using linear algebra.
1. Altering the size of a recipe.
2. Mixing any type of two materials together, such as two stroke oil and gas.
3. Figuring out how many supplies are need to construct and remodel buildings.
4. Perform common calculation in excel.
5. Figure out how long it will take to travel somewhere.
6. Calculating the best value when purchasing things.

These are all very mundane things. There are many people who can't do them unless they are dealing with halving or doubling something. It is sad.