Why do I have to learn Algebra? Math is critical to brain development. Every student has probably asked the question. "Why do I have to learn Algebra? I'll never use it again." Possibly, but you will use the area of your brain that it develops every day of your life. Math teaches you to take steps to find an answer. The process is every bit as important as the answer. Without mental discipline, even the smartest of people can fail at life. As you think your way through math problems, you actually build new and stronger brain circuitry that translates into solving all of life's challenges more effectively. If you are interested in building your body strength, but neglect your brain, you are only accomplishing part of what you need. Think of math as "working out" your brain!

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I agree that math is important for several reasons. Most of us will go on to use the math we learn in Algebra in real life. We will also learn certain problem solving skills and other skills through math. It is possible that we might learn these from other areas, but math is a great way to go about it. Someone gave the example that you don't have to lift weights to gain muscle. While this is true, lifting weights is certainly the eastiest and most effective route to that goal. The same could be said for math. You might learn problem solving and gain brain development from other areas, but math is the most direct route to that goal.
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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.

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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.

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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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