My initial reaction to the article by Mr. Cohen was that he was wrong to have written such a discouraging article to an impressionable young girl. I feel that math is important in everyday life. I do agree with Mr. Cohen in the sense that there are many aspects of Algebra that the majority of people do not use on a daily basis. I think that this fact is what leads people to the false conclusion that Algebra is useless. To better understand our topic, let’s define what we mean when we say “Algebra”. Webster’s dictionary defines Algebra as “a form of mathematics dealing with symbols and equations. A guest in the mathematics forum on xpmath. com states that “…the truth is that Algebra is not much more than arithmetic expanded to the point where you don’t have to do trial and error to get an answer. ” This guest goes on to explain that “…if you view it from that perspective, and overlook the outdated nature of some problems’ data, then you’ll recognize that indeed math deserves a place in your career; the more competent you can become with it, the better you’ll be able to competently manage you life. I wholeheartedly agree with the preceding statement. However, I’m not completely certain that math is THE MOST important subject we’ll ever learn; I believe that English quite important as well. Math describes how everything in our environment works. A working knowledge of mathematics enables us to make accurate measurements and predictions. Since Algebra uses letters to represent numbers, it forces us to leap from concrete to abstract thinking. This “new thinking” method is, I believe, the reason Algebra is so difficult for some people to learn.

It is a fact that Algebra is “essential in a huge range of occupations, including medicine, marketing, finance, economics, architecture, and computer technology. (Kollars 2008)” Even beyond it’s formal mathematical applications, algebra is considered essential for developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. (Kollars 2008). Many subjects require a high degree of logical thinking and error analysis. However, with Algebra, “we can actually check the student’s logistical thinking by examining every step he or she takes to solve a problem.

Of course, that implies that students are developing concepts, not just memorizing shortcuts, rules, tricks, and formulas. ” (Clark 2002). In reality, “most students are not going to solve quadratic equations, simplify radicals, or add algebraic equations, as adults. “ (Clark 2002). Most professions do require the use of some Algebra. However, “this can be called “dedicated Algebra” and you can learn its use in actual on-the-job-training. On the other hand, practical applications for everyday living make our need for Algebra negligible.

In fact, overall, except for highly scientific applications, it is very hard to justify the need for a comprehensive study of Algebra, as far as content is concerned. ” (Clark 2002). “Solving for the unknown. Exponential calculations. These and other algebraic skills are embedded in tasks ranging from figuring out interest on a savings account to measuring fabric for draperies to comparison shopping for a fuel-efficient car or an energy-saving air conditioner. ” (Kollars 2008).

Even as children we use some practical applications of Algebra. A few examples of this include: •Figuring out what time a child needs to leave home if their parents are driving them to a 7:00 pm movie. Traffic and time are represented by the variable “x”. (Wetzel 2008). •When children play sports, they have to mentally determine the angle to throw or kick the ball to achieve the desired results. They know the approximate distance, but need to determine how much force to apply to throw or kick the ball to the target. (Wetzel 2008). When children have limited money and want to spend the day at an amusement park with their friends, they need to budget their money to make sure that they have enough for the whole day. Mental Algebra is used to determine cost of rides, options for purchasing gifts, and of course having money to eat. (Wetzel 2008). Almost every problem which involves money, time, distance, perimeter of a fence or skate ramp, volume of something, comparing prices, renting something- cost versus-time, and similar situations are solved using Algebra. Wetzel 2008). In short, some Algebra is essential for everyday life. However, unless you plan to enter a highly scientific career field, advanced Algebra probably isn’t something that will be used often, if at all. Truthfully, even the Algebra we do use on a daily basis can usually be figured out with a calculator. Also, careers that rely heavily on Algebra often rely heavily on computers and machines that do most of the Algebra. My advice to Gabriella would be: Don’t quit school over one class.

Get a tutor or a new teacher that can explain it to you in a different way and maybe it will “click” for you. Never give up. A solid education is the most important thing you’ll ever have—it determines so many other aspects of your life. All you need is that one certain person who can put Algebra in perspective for you. Someone who can help you understand that you already know and use a lot of Algebra on a daily basis. Give it one more try—Good Luck!