Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yes you did!

I see this a lot. People send me joke emails with it and it has been posted on Facebook many times.  I laugh whenever I see it-not because there's truth to it and learning algebra was a waste of time but because it's dead wrong.

For the record basic algebraic principles are often introduced in kindergarten and continue through high school.  To understand this it's necessary to know what algebra  is. 

Algebra is actually lots of things.  Most people think it's something like this: 4X-12=2X+18 (answer at the end of this post). Well, that is certainly the kind of algebra we practiced in high school but it's much more.  Notice the equal sign.  That's important.  It implies balance.  One side has to equal another.  Think of balancing your household budget (or maybe not).  What goes out has to equal what's coming in.  Basic arithmetic is basic algebra.

Other kinds of algebra involve sorting, patterns and estimating-all taught in elementary school.   At the heart of it all is a way of thinking.  A way to approach and solve problems.  Logic and analytical skills  are the things we want children to develop.  That's algebra.

Did you think today?  Did you use logic in some way today?  Did you perform any financially related mathematical functions today?  I'm betting you did in which case you did indeed use algebra!

(Answer to problem: X=15.  Easy, right?)

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