LOLSparty: Algebra no longer required at MSU

Submitted by Mark McBoneski on June 30th, 2016 at 10:40 AM

In a move that should shock none of us, MSU has done away with requiring algebra to graduate. They claim that algebra is just too hard for their students, so they are implementing new "quantitative literacy" classes. And it's not like MSU's algebra course is rocket science. From one class's syllabus:


The topics of MTH 103 include linear & quadratic equations & inequalities, complex numbers, equations with radicals, absolute value, graphing linear and quadratic equations, transformations of graphs, polynomials, functions, polynomial and rational functions, exponentials, logarithms, and, most importantly, applications of these topics to solving problems outside of mathematics.

 I do realize that math isn't for everyone (UM's calculus courses were the WORST), but come on. If you have a college degree, you're expected to able to perform simple algebra calculations. Luckily, one of MSU's leaders agrees with me:


But students aren’t likely to succeed in the new classes or in post-college life without some algebra fundamentals, said William Schmidt, director of the MSU College of Education's Center for the Study of Curriculum. “Students who come to college with real weaknesses on the formal math side may not benefit fully from the quantitative lessons,” he said. While every job doesn’t require a well-honed knowledge of advanced math, Schmidt said, learning the fundamentals is essential to problem-solving. “The logic of thinking algebraically builds ways of thinking about problems, allowing us to engage in the practical aspects of mathematics,” he said. “It’s pretty tough (to do so) without it.”


LSJ Link

So maybe there is a small chance that eventually those quantitative literacy classes will end up resembling actual algebra. But until then, we just have to be content with "Go to school at MSU, learn to count to te-en!" being all too real.




June 30th, 2016 at 10:53 AM ^

That class description is, essentially, high school algebra 2.  I believe Alg2 was made the minimum for high school graduation in the state of Michigan in 2009 or 2010.  There was some talk of rolling that back, though, and I don't remember/know if Alg2 is still the minimum grad requirement now.


June 30th, 2016 at 10:44 AM ^

Does UM have an algebra requirement? I seem to remember having a "Quantitative Reasoning" requirement or something that pretty basic intro-level stats classes knocked out. I took a few stats courses over my time in college, but definitely never took anything in the math department.


June 30th, 2016 at 10:52 AM ^

Though I'm not a fan of math, I enjoyed the class.  That was also in addition to the math requirement which at the time was Pre-Calc.  I could be wrong, but according to the class guide I looked at in school, we didn't have Algebra classes.  But MSU had them at the time.

Doc Brown

June 30th, 2016 at 11:24 AM ^

Algebra is the first time students are exposed to designing an algorithm to solve a problem. Geometry is when students are taught how to form a pure logical argument to prove a point. Trig combines the two. IMO, algebra and geometry are the most important classes we teach next to 3rd grade English (a key point in determining if a child will be a stronger reader).

Ghost of Fritz…

June 30th, 2016 at 1:02 PM ^

a baseball outfielder does calculus just becasue his brain can automatically judge the changing arc of a fly ball well enough to run under it, catch it, and make the easy out?  

Generaly, however, I agree the math courses for most people are about improving reasoning skills in ways that other courses/fields do not. 


June 30th, 2016 at 3:30 PM ^

Here's my cool story bro experience:

When I was a kid, my uncles and I builta rocket. We decided that we wanted to know how high it went, so we built a device which measured the angle of the rocket from an observer when it hit its peak altitude. That way, we were able to determine how high it went and that we were pretty good aerospace engineers.

I've loved algebra, geometry, and calculus ever since. My only real regret is focusing on statistics and econometrics instead of continuing in calc during college.

In a world so dependent on science and math, it's amazing how many people rebel against essential knowledge.

Rant over.


June 30th, 2016 at 1:21 PM ^

Algebra wasn't required when I graduated. Probably a good thing too, because I could never get it... And I still can't. People say they are bad at math. I'm absolutely horrible. I can't even divide fractions without getting frustrated.