Re: Is Algebra Necessary?
Every high school student has whined (me included), "When will we ever need to use this?" and the answer is usually somewhere, but occluded by the piles of worksheets and textbooks which give no clue to their contents' necessity. If every student got to see math and physics being used at a UL lab or a NASA research center, and get introductory training in those fields, we could have a different story. Of course, that is impractical to do on a national scale, so teachers need to spend less time on problem number X, and more time on lab investigations and projects. Even better would be if they dropped the age-old experiments by minds long gone, and focused on something students can relate to, something making news today. I am fortunate enough to be in a school with a fantastic STEM program that also ties in to our robotics team (our lead mentor is the STEM Technology teacher), but other schools are less lucky.
I've always found math to be rewarding and pushed myself ahead in courses, but I could always see why others with less interest in the subject didn't do the same.
Think about this analogy: Do people buy cars because they love the engineering that went into them and the mechanics that make them work? Maybe you guys do, but most people don't. People learn how to use a car as a tool, and then buy cars because of what they can do for you. Mathematics (and really any school course) needs to be pitched the same way--This is how you can use math, and it will give you a fulfilling career in return. If they like it, they'll figure out the mechanics behind it too.