1050: Forgot Algebra
Title text: The only things you HAVE to know are how to make enough of a living to stay alive and how to get your taxes done. All the fun parts of life are optional.
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Here we have two ex-students taunting their old Algebra teacher because they have never used Algebra since they left (I'll assume) middle or high school.
Randall's argument here is that what part of your schooling that you use after you get out of school is all optional and up to you. Lots of people use math after they graduate, lots of people use their music lessons, etc. Lots of people don't use anything they learned in school in "real life".
The student also appears to be committing a logical error in that she assumes her math classes only taught her how to solve orderly lists of parameters ending with "Solve for x." Many everyday tasks involve basic mathematical calculations, but we are left to devise our own calculations. For example, to turn one's apartment into a ball pit, one must calculate or at least estimate (another skill learned in math class) the floor space of the room, the desired depth for the balls to cover, the space occupied by one crate of balls, and the cost of such a crate. While the operations are basic arithmetic, the ability to recognize unknowns and sort them into a meaningful statement comes from algebra.
- [An algebra teacher by the name of Miss Lenhart, a former student, and a bystander. Miss Lenhart is walking away while the former student shouts at her the following:]
- Former Student: Hey, Miss Lenhart! I forgot everything about algebra the moment I graduated, and in 20 years no one has needed me to solve anything for x. I told you I'd never use it! In your face!
- It's weird how proud people are of not learning math when the same arguments apply to learning to play music, cook, or speak a foreign language.