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Published at Wednesday, 18 September 2019. **algebra**. By Bernadette Boyer.

Sometimes it can seem hard work studying algebra. Hopefully at least some of the reasons below will help convince you that it is worthwhile in the end! Algebra will help you in your career, The fact is that you can’t get a good grade in your mathematics GCSE without some algebra. Getting a good maths GCSE opens up more career choices, access to college, university and some apprenticeships. If you study algebra beyond GCSE all the evidence shows that A-level maths and mathematical degrees help you earn more than you would otherwise. So algebra helps you earn more and gives you more chance of being able to choose a career which you enjoy. (Just take a look at the hundreds of career profiles of people who took maths to a more advanced level!) Algebra is a powerful tool, One of the main reasons for algebra is that it allows you to take a situation and make it more general. For example take the humble triangle – because of algebra we have a formula which tells us the area of every triangle in the world. A=\frac{1}{2}\times b \times h (area equals times base times height). Formulae are powerful as they tell us rules which work in every single situation. Formulae have been discovered ranging from simple things like the area of a circle to Einstein’s famous formula for energy: E=MC^2 . Formulae impact us in every area of our lives, from the price of our energy bills to how much getting a mortgage.

The issue of calculators has been debated by math teachers, university professors, and parents, but there is general agreement that calculators shouldn’t be a substitute for learning basic arithmetic and standard algorithms. Larson believes the use of calculators is not a yes or no question. While he says technology can help build a deeper understanding of key algebra concepts, students should still learn how to practice standard procedures on their own. You don’t want to see students go straight to calculators, Fennel says. “The calculator is an instructional tool,” says Fennel. “It should support but not supplant anything. You don’t use it for 6 x 7.”

“Parents should appreciate that learning mathematics is sometimes challenging,” Larson says, “and it’s not necessarily a good sign if everything is very easy. Students should be appropriately challenged to use problem-solving skills.” To do some homework of your own, Fennel suggests talking to your child and her math teacher about how homework is used. You can ask: Are homework assignments corrected and returned in a timely way?. Is homework reviewed in class so students can learn from their mistakes?. Does the teacher change the pace or direction of his or her instruction, based on student feedback? You don’t need to be a mathematician to ask good questions about your child’s curriculum, Fennel adds. “Ask the teacher, ‘Is it a repeat of math that should have already been mastered? When my child finishes this year, will he be ready for high school math?’”

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