It’s a brand new Link Love

We’re a little light this week because #2 was busy having a baby!  woooooo!

Apparently the NYTimes ran out of mommy-war stuff to write about so decided to do an idiotic editorial on why algebra shouldn’t be taught.  Here’s a good rebuttal from xoom that basically lays out why it’s a dumb article.  The NYTimes should be ashamed that they’re stooping so low just to generate controversy, and the lack of fact-checking is unconscionable.

If you want to either sigh in disgust or have a happy few minutes, depending on your outlook, check out this post on Acephalous and the links to photos of male and female Olympians.

Mutant Supermodel needs your help— please give her support, encouragement, advice, etc.  As always, we are rooting for her!

I found this hilarious column about keeping going on your writing when your environment is chaotic.

Also, I know this meme is so-three-weeks-ago, but I do love this and it made me laugh:

Let’s hope the Goblin King doesn’t steal any babies we love, because we are too tired to go through the labyrinth.

Anything cool going on in the world that we missed?

15 Responses to “It’s a brand new Link Love”

  1. Pamela Says:


    I hated (and still really do NOT enjoy) math but that article in the NYT was so epic in its stupidity. And actually, I have used some algerbra in my job (and it’s not even a tech job). You go to school to learn how to think, how to think critically, and to use logic. I didn’t use the French at all–outside of asking where the bathroom is and ordering a drink, I’m pretty much helpless in the language now–but it did familiarize me with the base words of so many Romantic languages as well as the grammar of those languages. Honestly, you could say we don’t really use Latin so why study that, but I regret not studying Latin in high school.

  2. becca Says:

    On the algebra thing- one thing I don’t think people realize is that in the community college setting, shorter developmental math sequences lead to better student outcomes. That’s largely about the money/complex adult student lives aspects, but it also suggests the “master the basics and then move on” idea is not working in practice, no matter how reasonable it sounds.
    I believe that for many people, math in particular won’t be retained unless it’s used regularly. If you wanted to construe the NYT piece as an argument for a “math across the curriculum” approach, and against the current system of “finish algebra before you can take any interesting classes”, I think there’s something to it. Though it might be rough on the chem teachers. I’d like to see a study on both approaches, actually.

    On another note, the Bowie thing is so awesome.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The article is full of incorrect “facts” and illogic. It does not argue that math should be taught differently, but that since many people don’t get it, they don’t need it. Which… is not a logical argument. It does address some stuff on “teach math differently” but that is also just out of this guy’s rear end and not based on actual say, research on what works with teaching math, of which there is a LOT, some of which is up to standards that most social scientists would deem worthy. Very shoddy reporting, even for an opinion piece and should not have been printed in the NYTimes except that they are desperate for generating readers through controversy and they seem to be out of mommy war topics.

      • hush Says:

        Amen, perfectly said @nicoleandmaggie.

      • becca Says:

        Oh, it’s a terribly written article. There is not a coherent logical thread, and it’s not even clear what Hacker is arguing for (though parts of it, like ‘more statistics please’ are not problematic).
        Still, it doesn’t seem to be much ‘controversy bait’ so much as ‘angry nerd bait’. I’ve seen commentary in at least half a dozen places, and they are all Outraged! at this piece (granted, I read a lot of angry nerds on the internet. Hacker may have defenders elsewhere).

        Both unschoolers and educational mainstream research agree on one thing- how challenging it can be to retain information that is of little interest or use to you. Thus, if you assume everybody knows that students learn what they find interesting and useful, I would say it is logical to claim “Students are taught algebra in classes, yet they are not learning it. Perhaps they are not taught it well, or perhaps algebra really is not useful and interesting enough to justify requiring all students to learn it”.
        If you didn’t see that in Hacker’s piece, maybe I’m imagining it there or maybe your reading comprehension isn’t where mine is. Either way, Hacker should have written more clearly. Boo, NYT for that!
        However, if you see that in Hacker’s piece, but you don’t agree, I’m game to listen to an evidenced-based logical response- it’s just that the xoom bit isn’t it.

        NONE of the arguments I read, including in the xoom piece, even attempted to explain why algebra is interesting, and few seemed to attempt to build a credible argument about how it is useful. Simply saying “I use it all the time does NOT demonstrate something’s general utility. Somebody can tell me they use a salad spinner every day, but that doesn’t tell me I need a salad spinner. Perhaps more importantly, no argument I have read would have remotely swayed me as a reluctant algebra student. The only reason I was willing to learn algebra was it was a prerequisite to get to the science. I don’t think that’s a good enough carrot for everyone, and it makes algebra seem like more of a weird prove-your-brain hoop to jump through, not a useful tool.
        People who have benefited from proving themselves by jumping through certain hoops are, by default, interested in keeping those hoops.

  3. Practical Parsimony Says:

    Community colleges are creating new classes so that students do not have to take algegra-heavy courses. That is dilution of the algebra.acquisition. Older students do not have to follow the algebra-first-before-you-take-interesting-courses mandate. I finished the degree I started 29 years before and refused to take albebra until it was my last course. My advisor tried to force me.

    I tutored a guy who could not get out of remedial math at a junior college. He was older. I advised him to just transfer to UA without the math. He did. Now, he is struggling with math in order to graduate. However,he has no other classes. So, he can concentrate on one thing.

    Math across the curriculum is a good idea. So is writing across the curriculum, but English classes are not cut from the curriculum.

    My GED students were in the community, but I also taught in a prison. Students always questioned me about why they had to learn algebra, why learn to write an essay, etc. One guy was a 45ish mechanic. He helped me with the algebra question when he was in class.

    One guy in prison saw no reason to learn to estimate. He did not have to learn to figure how many $23.99 shirts he could buy if he only had $100 in his wallet. “I never ask prices because I have all the money I need.” I asked what he did for a living on the outside.Everybody laughed. I figured pimp or drugs. Later, he came to me, excitedly telling me he really did need to need to know how to estimate. He told me bought drugs and divided them up to sell for a certain amount. He said he never knew how much he could make. He just sold until the drug/mary jane was gone and counted his money. (not albegra) The man was thrilled and continued to be happy about learning more math.algebra/geometry. I even threw in a little physics and showed them more of how the world worked.

    Women who had college degrees, were in early 50s and 60s, had husbands who were doctors (MDs and PhDs) and scientists came to my class I taught in a university. (not Ged Students) One wanted to know how to tell how much a dress would be if it were marked down 15% without having to ask a clerk. Yes, I taught them the formula, but also how to do mental math.

    I am an English teacher who cried in college algebra, right in class. But, after graduating, I taught myself and mastered it. So, I railed against algebra for years. With maturity and success, I know I was wrong.

    Students no longer have to have a language. I had to have two years when I graduated. I double my vocabulary when I took Latin and Spanish in hs. Studying Spanish, Greek, and Japanese at university taught me things I use everyday.

    Physical Education is mostly gone; recess has been cut in places; music and art had been lost in other places. What are kids/students supposed to study? Computer science? Critical thinking, exposure to other aspects of the world, and a direction for finding a passion are being destroyed. I uess texting should be a degree.

    HS students were shocked I could do algebra wihtout a calculator iwhen I went to hs. One girl said she would fail if she only had pencil and paper. This was an AP student, the brightest of the bright.

  4. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    That’s really terrible what it happening to Mutant Supermodel. If she were to put up a donate button on her blogge, I bet she’d be able to get substantial support for her kids’ trip to Disney World. I know I’d chip in.

  5. MutantSupermodel Says:

    You guys are amazing. Thank you a million for your constant rooting for me. It helps SO much.

  6. SP Says:

    Oh my. My husband just got his PhD in a highly mathmatical branch of engineering, and was recently at a workshop/conference where someone with a Phd in engineering education claaimed engineeers didn’t need calculus, just “problem solving skills”. But what better way to develop them!?! I work as an engineer and don’t use calculus often, but the fundamentals are there! Calculus changed my life! (nerd alert.)

    I thought it was an esspecially ridiculous claim to a room of theoretical researchers. Maybe slightly true for students going straight into industry, but absoultely insane for people basically doing math as their reserach.

  7. femmefrugality Says:

    Oh, congrats, congrats, congrats! Hope momma and baby are both healthy and happy! Haha you’ve got me cracking up with Bowie.

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