Hi All, Here's my two cents worth. I think we need always to consider, when discussing general education college curriculum courses and requirements, that resources and reasonable requirements will always be limited. A justification can probably be put forward for far more subjects and courses than any institution can or will require. Given the limitations of resources we have to make choices about not what is good or beneficial to learn, but what is more beneficial or better. So, for me, the question needs to be posed something like: Is algebra more worthy of being taught/learned than other courses/subjects? Ideally, then, we would consider not only algebra but these other potential subject areas, at a level of detail beyond their mere names (e.g. "algebra"). I think we also need to examine beliefs and value judgements about the benefits of particular courses. Many of these questions then become empirical (not that I'm saying only empirical questions are important or valuable). For instance, claims have been made about the general benefits of algebra courses to students' "logic" and "problem solving" capabilities. That's a tangible outcome that can be assessed in some way. Do we have evidence that teaching algebra to students does indeed improve their performance in these areas; does algebra instruction help students develop problem solving strategies that are broadly transferable? ?For that matter, does teaching a critical reading course improve students' critical thinking generally? Does learning, for instance, chess, improve logic and problem solving generally ? The answer to the last question, at least, appears to be "no". Another question, getting back to algebra, is whether students who take and pass algebra courses ACTUALLY use it in the situations where algebra COULD be used. The question as I would frame it isn't whether algebra could be used, but whether it is, because we're not talking about the value of algebra in the abstract, but the value of students' taking algebra courses as opposed to some other course. So, while some on the list used algebra in various situations, that does not mean that most students do or would. The equivalent on the literacy/study strategies side of the issue is asking whether students in study skills courses apply what they've learned to their subject-matter courses, not to mention when reading the newspaper. For me, since this question takes us not only to what students learn, but how they use their knowledge, then we can't really discuss the issue of whether algebra should be taught separately from the question of HOW it is taught. That's because there's different ways of knowing things, and these ways, in turn, are dependent on how knowledge is acquired, which is a function--at least to some extent--of the method of instruction. Nic > -- Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. --Paolo Freire Dominic (Nic) J. Voge Study Strategies Program Coordinator University of California, Berkeley Student Learning Center 136 Cesar Chavez Student Center #4260 Berkeley, CA 94720-4260 (510) 643-9278 [log in to unmask] http://slc.berkeley.edu FALL 2006 OFFICE HOURS: ED 98/198 Office Hours: T 3-4; W 4-5 Drop-in Hours W 5-6; Th 1-3 Individual Appointments W 10-11; TH 6-8; F 3-4 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your web browser to http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]