I think that algebra is foundational to more advanced math, and learning algebra helps you understand some important math for daily life. For example, if you need to install a new floor in your house or new landscaping, or poor concrete, basic algebra and geometry knowledge will help you from getting fleeced.

I think we need to learn algebra because it will be used beyond math class. Scientists use it every day and if you take any chemistry or physics classes, you'll definitely need those skills to solve the problems in those courses. We have seen that a student's math ACT scores correlate strongly with their grades in chemistry courses. While this doesn't indicate causation, that's enough of an argument for me to encourage students.

As a chemistry teacher, I spend almost as much time helping students with math concepts as I do with chemistry. Students who have better math skills (which can only come for most people through regular practice) have an easier time understanding topics in chemistry even if no math is involved.

You may be right, but I'm not necessarily convinced. Is there any evidence that you need to learn algebra in specific to have "mental discipline?" It seems fairly plausible to me that you can learn the idea of taking steps to find an answer without having to do algebra. I think that much of why we are taught algebra is because of the idea that we don't yet know what we will do with our lives and we therefore must learn it so that we will have the chance to do math-based careers.

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