A number of claims are made about the value of everyone learning algebra, geometry and more, but I don’t think any of them stand up to scrutiny.
Before I get argumentative, I want to say very clearly and with conviction that math is a powerful tool and a beautiful subject for many people. Some people have a passion for math, and I respect and admire this. Other people need to complete math courses to reach their goals; this is, of course, sensible. It’s just that math isn’t for everyone; lots of it are not needed in most people’s day-to-day lives.
I often hear, In today’s technical world, success at work requires knowing math. I once asked a telephone repair person who was fixing the phone in my office if he had enjoyed high school. Yes, he did, he said. Did you take algebra and geometry? I asked. Yes, I did, he said. Do you use it in your work? No, I don’t, he said.
I asked a former student who is now a nurse if she thought the high school math she learned was necessary in her work. Yes, she said. How long would it have taken you to learn just what you actually use? I asked. A few hours, she replied.
I suspect that most of my readers can’t remember the last time in their adult lives that they factored a trinomial or wrote down anything that involved imaginary numbers.