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Algebra? The how, what, and why we learn page 2
Harvey Gold's op-ed column on providing a balanced and relevant education.

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Date published: 9/7/2012


But the major flaw in Jones' suggestion is the implication that any subject we don't use often is something we don't need. What should we do about the study of chemistry, physics, biological systems, trigonometry, earth science, Latin, the history of the Peloponnesian War or World War I, or diagramming a sentence in English? Since we don't use any of these much, if at all, should we stop teaching them?

Then the question is: Where do you start? Where do you stop teaching disciplines that make up an educated person's knowledge? What would we use as a basis to eliminate areas of study without knowing what work we finally will choose to follow in life? For those of us who are tone deaf, should we stop teaching music? For those of us who are not good at physical training, should we stop having physical education? It appears some states have done away with music and physical education, and the result seems to be overweight or obese people who think rap music is the only music that has ever been composed.


Should we eliminate areas of knowledge to meet the needs of people who want to settle for a "D"? Should we set our standards that low? This brings to mind the juvenile thinking expressed in Sam Cooke song "Wonderful World":

Don't know much about history.

Don't know much biology.

Don't know much about a science book.

Don't know much about the French I took.

But I do know that I love you.

And I know that if you love me too.

What a wonderful world this would be.

Would it be a wonderful world if our students don't know much about the subjects they have taken? The words convey the idea that youthful emotion is more important than education.

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