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What happened to Jr & Sr High Math?

Nolathyme

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My 5th grader will be taking 6th/7th grade math in 6th grade. The path that he is on will have him taking the following classes:

7th grade - Algebra 1
8th - Geometry
9th - Algebra 2
10 - Pre-calc
11 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)
12 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)


Here is what I took :
9 grade - Algebra 1
10 - Geometry
11 - Algebra 2
12 - Something called Sr Analysis for 1/2 year & Intro to Calc for 1/2 year

From what I remember, my math classes were challenging.

The slowest path now offered is the one I took many years ago.

Many thoughts in my head, such as - why do I want my kid taking college level classes. Aren't they suppose to enjoy high school a little?
 

tiel

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My experience, from many many moons ago, is similar to that of your 5th grader. The differences would be Trigonometry in 10th, and 2 different calculus courses for grades 11 and 12. Beyond that, I remember nothing!
 

geekette

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Many thoughts in my head, such as - why do I want my kid taking college level classes. Aren't they suppose to enjoy high school a little?
I'm not sure that enjoyment is supposed to be part of high school. Always puzzled me when someone would say high school is best time of life.

it would be a mistake to go easy on any subjects in hs. the world is a competitive place. Being behind college classmates is a lot harder than it would be at hs level.

I would have appreciated college credit courses in high school. would have decreased how long I had to stay (and pay) for college.

I don't think anyone should slough off, especially while young.

For the record, I am very good at math, always have been. Trig tripped me up horribly, never made any sense to me. I can solve a complicated quadratic equation or figure out how long before train B catches train A, but even if I looked up the definition today, I still couldn't tell you what a cosign is, except as applies to loans. Algebra and Geometry I still use, but there has never been a life situation where I thought, damn, wish I understood trig, that would help right now... but how would I really know what here at home could benefit from trig??

In my book, too much math is not a bad thing. English might not be a good thing to load up on anymore since so much communication now isn't complete sentences and full of acronyms I don't know.
 

bogey21

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When I was a Senior in HS and had most of my required College Prep courses out of the way I spent afternoons in out Technical School (about 1/3 of the students in my HS were in Tech Education). I took Mechanical Drawing and Auto Mechanics. Looking back I'm glad I did. I had less homework and actually learned something useful...

George
 

Luanne

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I still count on my fingers and never could memorize the multiplication tables. I almost flunked the "new" math in 8th grade. But once I got to algebra, geometry and trig I did great. The biggest benefit of doing well was that I was asked to tutor other students and made some money. :D
 

pedro47

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I have one problem the average high school student Now, cannot add, count, subtract, divide or multiply without a calculator or a cell phone.

Many, many years ago I was taking College Prep courses in high school. We all knew/had how to do basic math and had basic reading & writing skills. We all know how to solve math problems on our own with out using that calculator. That was our key to success in college. We had to write a term paper with foot notes for our Senior English Class. I am sorry, we had to have a type term paper with no less than twenty (20) type papers with footnotes to achieve a passing grades.
No more than five (5) errors.

Also, in that time there were no computers or internet. We had to go a library and open some books. LOL.
 
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bbodb1

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From someone who works in the public education sector, a few items for your consideration:
  • The math you recall from the courses you took, and the amount of math you were introduced to in those courses would cripple nearly every HS student today. Gone are the days where students were responsible for their learning and in most (but not all) courses, the expectations are much lower (and less) than back in our day.
  • Nowadays, teachers have to teach, reteach, and remediate before they can move on in the curriculum (this simply does not leave as much time to cover as much material). We are not teaching as much math (quantity of curriculum wise) in courses today compared to 10 years ago - let alone when we were in high school (a bit longer than 10 years ago I'd venture).
  • Computers are a cancer on learning. Far too many teachers use computers to keep their students occupied (for appearance's sake) on whatever website keeps their students the most interested with much less concern for actual learning. Don't believe me? Take computers away from a math class and watch what happens.
  • How math is taught these days is a crime against learning. The processes students are expected to use for something as simple as regrouping border on insane. Students are expected to draw pictures to justify their answers as showing their work with the borrowing/regrouping strategies is not considered proof.
 

Cornell

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You have posted about a subject that I am passionate about. I was a math major in college , have a master in statistics, taught college statistics and work professionally as a statistician. I also have a high school aged daughter and I'm very interested & involved in her curriculum.

In my opinion, only children that are truly GIFTED (and I mean "gifted" -- not above average) can master math in the sequence / ages that you are describing for your son. The strong math student should be on a track somewhere split between what YOU experienced and what your son will.

I just don't think kids have the maturity, brain development for Algebra 1 as a 7th grader - some introduction to algebraic concepts, yes, but not the first year of Algebra. Additionally, I don't think a high school junior can master calculus.

I also disagree with the courses that fall into a typical high school math curriculum. Unless you are going to be a science major, math major, engineer, etc, I don't see any use for trigonometry. It has a very limited application. Additionally, I would argue that statistics is a far more valuable class for a high schooler than calculus.

We are bombarded with data in our live every day and statistics is a better "life skill" that offers critical thinking that is more relevant than calculus. Just the concepts of hypothesis testing and confidence intervals are things we see all the time (eg political polling with a +/- 3% error).

I disagree with the previous poster about expectations being lower today. My daughter faces a much more challenging curriculum in high school than I ever did , and I was a good student. She was taking AP classes as a freshman -- I never had a single AP class until I was a senior. I find that crazy.
 

Cornell

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My 5th grader will be taking 6th/7th grade math in 6th grade. The path that he is on will have him taking the following classes:

7th grade - Algebra 1
8th - Geometry
9th - Algebra 2
10 - Pre-calc
11 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)
12 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)


Here is what I took :
9 grade - Algebra 1
10 - Geometry
11 - Algebra 2
12 - Something called Sr Analysis for 1/2 year & Intro to Calc for 1/2 year

From what I remember, my math classes were challenging.

The slowest path now offered is the one I took many years ago.

Many thoughts in my head, such as - why do I want my kid taking college level classes. Aren't they suppose to enjoy high school a little?
And I agree with you -- high school SHOULD have an enjoyment component. Growing up and maturing DOES involve a social component. I am always trying to strike a balance with my daughter of working hard, preparing for the future, but remembering she is STILL a kid and needs to enjoy life and have fun.
 

louisianab

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I did this math placement in high school. Chose to not do calc 2 and took stats/something else. (advanced math science high school program). Have a STEM bachelor's. Agree with previous poster, that if it's not the future path, do something else. Or if they do not enjoy it.
 

geekette

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From someone who works in the public education sector, a few items for your consideration:
  • The math you recall from the courses you took, and the amount of math you were introduced to in those courses would cripple nearly every HS student today. Gone are the days where students were responsible for their learning and in most (but not all) courses, the expectations are much lower (and less) than back in our day.
  • Nowadays, teachers have to teach, reteach, and remediate before they can move on in the curriculum (this simply does not leave as much time to cover as much material). We are not teaching as much math (quantity of curriculum wise) in courses today compared to 10 years ago - let alone when we were in high school (a bit longer than 10 years ago I'd venture).
  • Computers are a cancer on learning. Far too many teachers use computers to keep their students occupied (for appearance's sake) on whatever website keeps their students the most interested with much less concern for actual learning. Don't believe me? Take computers away from a math class and watch what happens.
  • How math is taught these days is a crime against learning. The processes students are expected to use for something as simple as regrouping border on insane. Students are expected to draw pictures to justify their answers as showing their work with the borrowing/regrouping strategies is not considered proof.
Well that was distressing!

Seriously, tho, thank you for straight poop.
 

MULTIZ321

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There are some practical reasons to learn calculus.
Calculus is used to improve the architecture not only of buildings but also of important
infrastructures such as bridges. In Electrical Engineering, Calculus (Integration) is used
to determine the exact length of power cable needed to connect two substations, which
are miles away from each other. In fact, you can use calculus in a lot of ways and applications. Among the disciplines that utilize calculus include physics, engineering, economics, statistics, and medicine. It is used to create mathematical models in order to arrive into an optimal solution.

What is Calculus used for?


Richard
 

SmithOp

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I didn’t take Calculus until first year of college, only made it through Trig in HS. I graduated in 72, went right into the service then college on GI Bill.

My favorite years were Jr High, 66-69, everything that was going on in the world then. I enjoyed journalism, wrote for the school paper and became aware of politics.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

slip

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That is very close to what I did. I think you will find this a little different in a lot of different schools all around the country. I never thought about any of that when I was going to school, it’s just what you did.

Our school did have plenty of other levels of math to take though. Not every student went that route. Many would not have graduated if they had to take that route. Not everyone has the altitude to take Trig and Calculus.
 

klpca

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I took geometry in 9th, Algebra 2 in 10th, something - maybe trig in 11th, and Precalc in 12th. Except for geometry, hated every minute of it although I was proficient. I had to take calculus twice in college (lol), and after statistics, I was luckily done. I have a business degree - all of those math classes were a complete waste of time, imo.

My kids all moved along faster than I did because that was how the curriculum was designed. All took AP math classes by their senior year at the latest, but only my middle kid took multiple AP math classes. (They all took multiple AP classes in other disciplines). The only value there was for them being able to register early for college courses because the universities didn't always give straight across credit (math and science had to be taken at the university and elective credit was given for those AP math and science courses). They did fine but I am not sure if the advanced math courses were necessary for their majors.
 
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bbodb1

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You have posted about a subject that I am passionate about. I was a math major in college , have a master in statistics, taught college statistics and work professionally as a statistician. I also have a high school aged daughter and I'm very interested & involved in her curriculum.

In my opinion, only children that are truly GIFTED (and I mean "gifted" -- not above average) can master math in the sequence / ages that you are describing for your son. The strong math student should be on a track somewhere split between what YOU experienced and what your son will.

I just don't think kids have the maturity, brain development for Algebra 1 as a 7th grader - some introduction to algebraic concepts, yes, but not the first year of Algebra. Additionally, I don't think a high school junior can master calculus.

I also disagree with the courses that fall into a typical high school math curriculum. Unless you are going to be a science major, math major, engineer, etc, I don't see any use for trigonometry. It has a very limited application. Additionally, I would argue that statistics is a far more valuable class for a high schooler than calculus.

We are bombarded with data in our live every day and statistics is a better "life skill" that offers critical thinking that is more relevant than calculus. Just the concepts of hypothesis testing and confidence intervals are things we see all the time (eg political polling with a +/- 3% error).

I disagree with the previous poster about expectations being lower today. My daughter faces a much more challenging curriculum in high school than I ever did , and I was a good student. She was taking AP classes as a freshman -- I never had a single AP class until I was a senior. I find that crazy.

FWIW, as Cornell notes (at least in our state) there has been an effort in the past few years to push the curriculum 'down' (meaning starting Pre Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, etc) in earlier grades. I agree with Cornell's observation in this area but want to add that something lost in this process has been the ability of a school to ability group students in the 5th, 6th and 7th grade years and offer math to each group at (on) their level. Whereas now you have to get every student along the Pre Algebra, Algebra, Geometry path ASAP (whether they are ready or not in too many cases), previously a good number of schools could offer courses to their 5th, 6th and 7th graders that allowed an approach closer to individual needs (again accomplished by ability grouping).

When I went to school (ages ago to be sure), many aspects of Algebra and Geometry were introduced in our 5th, 6th, and 7th grade years but without the time pressures one will find in the actual Algebra and Geometry courses. It was hard work, but when a class is full with students of similar ability, instruction is much more effective.

I'll continue to respectfully disagree with Cornell about today's expectations though because so many kids have become lost in the process of pushing 'down' the math curriculum (they do not 'get' math) that schools have been forced to utilize more class time (additional periods) for remediation purposes. That, in turn, limits the other courses a student can take (which is not a positive trend) while at the same time a growing segment of students realize they have an 'out' if they just do not want to do the work (and have math courses throughout more of their day).

There is a small segment of our students who do want to consume as much as they can academically (which sounds like a description of Cornell's daughter for sure). As the father to three kids who took many AP courses, I can tell you my pushing of my kids to/toward AP courses ASAP was to avoid the classrooms too full of kids who did not want to be in school (which is another problem entirely, but eviscerates our classroom effectiveness).

Perhaps the fairest conclusion to draw is this: if the school can offer a wide enough array of math courses, a student does have more course choices today then ever before. A segment of students will always choose the most challenging courses - and we need that segment to grow based on merit. But for the majority of students, far too many are choosing the easiest (and laziest) way out of high school and they are less prepared for whatever is next in life than ever before. Subject remediation (common in math, literacy and many of the sciences) makes it easier for students to make less than minimal effort and slide by. That is NOT the type of environment conducive to producing young adults ready to face the challenges ahead in life.
 

pedro47

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And I agree with you -- high school SHOULD have an enjoyment component. Growing up and maturing DOES involve a social component. I am always trying to strike a balance with my daughter of working hard, preparing for the future, but remembering she is STILL a kid and needs to enjoy life and have fun.
When you were in high school did you enjoy life and did you not still have fun
after taking all those tough math and science courses? I enjoyed going to sporting events and participating in sporting activities liked football, track and basketball in high school. In our family we had to eat together for dinner and on Sunday morning, my friends and I had to attend our all male Sunday school class or we were ground for the week social activities.
 

artringwald

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How many remember the "new math"? If not, Tom Lehrer can explain it.
 

Patri

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My 5th grader will be taking 6th/7th grade math in 6th grade. The path that he is on will have him taking the following classes:
7th grade - Algebra 1
8th - Geometry
9th - Algebra 2
10 - Pre-calc
11 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)
12 - AP Math (Advanced placement calculus, advanced placement statistics, or other college level courses)

Here is what I took :
9 grade - Algebra 1
10 - Geometry
11 - Algebra 2
12 - Something called Sr Analysis for 1/2 year & Intro to Calc for 1/2 year
From what I remember, my math classes were challenging.
I had the same three years as you, but did not take math my senior year. Your child does not have to take the last couple classes if he is not geared that way (ie maybe is really talented in languages, art, history, etc.), or you can slow the pace. If he will want to enter a technical field, he will be fine with them all. I remember being lost in Algebra 1 as a freshman. We probably did not get the foundational concepts in junior high. It took several months before the lightbulb came on in graphing, and from then on I sailed through that class and the next two. But my academic interests came from the other half of my brain so I did not sign up for the remaining math class my high school offered.
 

Sandy VDH

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I actually have a Bachelor of Mathematics, University of Waterloo, Canada. I also have a co-op degree, meaning that it took 5 years to get a 4 year degree, but I got 2 years of work experience while doing it. (4 months school followed by 4 months of work for 5 years.) I have a double major Computer Science and Business.

Just prior to me graduating they actually reduced the requirements for the degree. As it required taking 120% of a standard course load for the entire time in order to get all of the required credits. They did remove requirements to make it 100% course load.

But I have forgotten more things about some math than most people probably ever learn. LOL.

I hated Calculus and admit that in a 40 year professional career I have used it about once. But depending on your career, or more likely if you are an structural engineer or something like that you may need it. However I did not. I use my statistics, combinatorics and optimization knowledge occasionally and all my computer and business classes every day of my career.

But don't get me started on the NEW MATH. What is that garbage they are teaching. And why can people not understand how to do any simple calculation without a calculator. My pet peeve is people who just can't make change, certainly without the POS system telling you what the change is.
 

Nolathyme

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I do not want to push my kid unnecessarily, and am trying to find the right balance of courses for him. In my area, there is a big push for AP and Honors courses - though some private schools are doing away with AP courses.

It seems like some of the kids are not doing well with the current system.

The March 23-24th, 2019 WSJ article "The Right Way to Choose A College" , mentioned the following
"More and more students are reporting severe sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and thought of suicide as they struggle to meet unrealistically high expectations foisted upon them." ... The ultimate irony is that, even when these students do end up in selective colleges, many of them continue to struggle with mental and physical health issues, and often lack the independence, resilience and sense of purpose they need to graduate and enter the workforce."

There was an article in yesterday's WSJ, February 13, 2020 titled "Mental-Health Requests Strain Employees."
 
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Cornell

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I do not want to push my kid unnecessarily, and am trying to find the right balance of courses for him. In my area, there is a big push for AP and Honors courses - though some private schools are doing away with AP courses.

It seems like some of the kids are not doing well with the current system.

The March 23-24th, 2019 WSJ article "The Right Way to Choose A College" , mentioned the following
"More and more students are reporting severe sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and thought of suicide as they struggle to meet unrealistically high expectations foisted upon them." ... The ultimate irony is that, even when these students do end up in selective colleges, many of them continue to struggle with mental and physical health issues, and often lack the independence, resilience and sense of purpose they need to graduate and enter the workforce."

There was an article in yesterday's WSJ, February 13, 2020 titled "Mental-Health Requests Strain Employees."
I agree with you 100% -- you can make these kids (and parents nuts) by pushing them too hard. Trust your instincts on this.
 

pedro47

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This new math is one big joke IMO.
The public school & colleges needs to be teaching the metric system because this is standard of measurement in over 90% of the world countries.
 
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Cornell

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@swj Thank you for the WSJ article - just read it. Makes me feel better reading it. We are in the midst of college selection and I'm focusing on finding the right "fit" for my daughter -not the top school she can get into.
 
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