Patt Morrison

<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California. Hosted by

Professor: Don’t waste your time on math!

by Patt Morrison

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Mathematics professor and writer Gerald Tenenbaum posing with his last book, 'L'affinité des traces' on May 3, 2012. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images

One of the great galvanizing experiences of American youth is griping about algebra. Even if you displayed an aptitude for it, the majority of us who learned it never saw a practical use for it, and never pursued it in any remotely professional manner. Algebra has grown from a mere mathematical discipline into a larger symbol for academic rigor for academic rigor’s sake. There are millions of successful American professionals who do not use algebra to maintain their success, perform their jobs, run their lives, or anything else of consequence. Yet no one proposes that the teaching of algebra should go away.

Until now. Professor Andrew Hacker writes in a recent edition of the New York Times that algebra and math erect an unnecessary impediment to educational success to many students. Professor Hacker says because of this, algebra specifically, and mathematics more generally, need not be universally taught in schools.


Andrew Hacker, op-ed writer, New York Times

Dima Shlyakhtenko, professor and chair of UCLA’s mathematics department

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