That’s the title of this Slate article. The first few lines chill my mathematical soul:
My personal feeling is that this is heresy. But, of course, I loved Algebra II. I actually went to summer school to take it early, so I could eventually take Calculus in high school.
But I realize that not everyone shares me feeling. Pepper Mill, is a mathphobe, and her experience taking higher math in college was horrifying to her. She barely escaped – and that is no exaggeration. Our daughter MilliCal has not had as hard a time of it (apparently the result of mixing those genes), but she doesn’t love math. She celebrated when she finished the required math courses at college, saying she was glad that she never had to take another math course again.
I discussed all this many times with some of our high-tech friends (we run in geeky circles), and was astonished to learn that one couple, despite working in engineering, virtually never use higher math at all. This blew me away – I use it all the time. I figure it’s part of the job. But apparently even a lot of techies don’t require anything much beyond Algebra I in their daily lives (while I’m doing derivatives and performing mathematical transforms of various types, and doing integrals)
I realize that most people don’t need a lot of this, and shouldn’t be penalized for their intellectual makeup. But on the other hand, I’m worried about plans to replace this with “Consumer math” and statistics not merely being an alternative to higher algebra and calculus, but supplanting it. We definitely need to have Algebra II around as a springboard for scientists and engineers. Even if they don’t use it in later life.