Wednesday, December 02, 2015

1572 The Algebra Test

1572 The Algebra Test

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school it’s a wonder I can think at all.” -- Paul Simon, “Kodachrome” 1973

Okay class -- seniors only -- a show of hands.  How many of you remember sitting in algebra class asking yourself “when am I everrrr going to need this?”

Let’s see.  Looks like everyone has a hand up except Al Einstein there in the window row, and Dusa McDuff right in front of Al.

We all know Einstein. Most don’t know McDuff or have a clue about her work in math, “symplectic topology,” which as best as we earthlings can figure is the study and nature of twisty bands that fold.

We wouldn’t know one if we saw one.  But it’s important.  Well… we’re told it’s important.

The point is chances are you’ve never needed a simple equation in real life.

Now, here come today’s brilliant ed-yu-craters who have toughened New York State’s already ludicrously difficult algebra Regents exam.  Those are final exams at certain points in an academic high school track.

The passing rate is in the low 70 percent of takers, and expected to go lower once the new and harder tests are actually given.

Surely, you remember a problem stated thus:

A train leaves Miami at 10am heading for Atlanta at an average speed of 50 mph, a straight shot of 600 miles. Two hours later, a train leaves Atlanta heading for Miami at an average speed of 70 mph.  At what time will they cross paths?

This is fairly complicated but not difficult if you know the steps.  Of course in the real world no train ever travels at those speeds.  But we’re talking about the algebra regents, here, not real life.

We’re talking about the old exam, the one where three out of ten flunk.  The new exam will ask for a graph of your answer.

Of course, you’ll get it all right.  After all Ms. Pinkly has been giving you drills in this all year.  And you’ll thank her later, because this is precisely what you’ll be doing when you get that starter job in the Best Buy stockroom.  It’ll be even more important to you when you become a partner at your law firm.

Not that it’s a bad idea to learn a little math because it’ll help you think and it’ll teach you that just because you know the names of all the characters on “The Real Housewives of Yankton SD” or assume that a thought that enters your head has to be right just because you thought it, doesn’t make it so.

And separating our opinions from facts is fast becoming a lost art.




Shrapnel:

--Speaking of Albany, Tarnished Silver is convicted and Sen. Skeezos is next in line as the courts clean out the old and corrupt in the legislature. Gotta make way for the up and coming young and corrupt. Nothing ever changes in Albany.

--Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks bus ride that changed America.  Parks passed away on October 25, 2005. Her life and death were the subject of the first internet-only Wessay. If interested, you can read it here.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2015

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