Since nearly every adult in our society has received at least some formal education, most of us have opinions on what should and should not be taught in our schools. For a very significant segment of the population, math in general, and algebra in particular, revive unpleasant memories. That said, many of those who make little direct use of math in their daily lives still seem to recognize it as having an essential place in everyone’s education.
This fascinating New York Times article suggests some radical changes to not only what we teach but also how we view the role of mathematics in our lives. The story is longer than most of the ones I link to but, for anyone interested in the subject, it really is worth reading all the way through because it smoothly builds toward the best parts near the end. Please do not skip over the ideas about quantitative reasoning and about turning mathematics into one of the liberal arts “making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet”.
Of course, no major article like that is going to go unchallenged. My favourite of the rebuttals is this one by a BC physicist who emphasizes the idea that we are “training people to be members of civilization, not employees”.