Teaching algebra starts in elementary school, Los Angeles has decided. From the Daily News:
WEST HILLS — Playing a game with crayons and colored blocks, 6-year-old Skylor Bates looks like he’s enjoying recess instead of learning algebra.
But the game’s patterns introduce Skylor and his first-grade classmates at Pomelo Drive Elementary to the concept of abstract thought — one of the keys to understanding algebraic equations.
Ninety percent of Los Angeles students score below proficient on the state’s algebra test. Students must pass basic algebra to earn a high school diploma. It’s not just a question of learning to go from the concrete to the abstract.
Educators said students also struggle because they have a weak foundation in other fundamentals, such as fractions, decimals and percentages.
Here’s my favorite quote:
After a recent class on patterns, 7-year-old Mason Bissada proclaimed: “When I heard that that was algebra, I was like, oh, I did that in kindergarten . . . It makes a lot of sense.”
I’ve been doing a lot of algebra tutoring with ninth graders this year. I wish they knew addition, multiplication, fractions, decimals, percentages and negative numbers. And I wish they had the faith that this is all supposed to make sense.