# 6 Reasons Why We Learn Algebra

When a student says they’re studying algebra, a common reply from adults is, “I haven’t used that since I graduated from high school.” Responses like this can be discouraging to students who wonder why we learn algebra if it is not useful for life.

I have good news for algebra students: algebra does indeed enrich our life if we choose to understand it. Memorizing how to do algebra might get a course finished, but understanding algebra helps us notice when we can use it to solve everyday problems.

## 6 Reasons Why We Learn Algebra

### 1) Algebra is Faster And Better Than “Basic” Math

Just as multiplying two by twelve is faster than counting to 24 or adding 2 twelve times, algebra helps us solve problems more quickly and easily than we could otherwise. Algebra also opens up whole new areas of life problems, such as graphing curves that cannot be solved with only foundational math skills.

### 2) Algebra is Necessary to Master Statistics and Calculus

While learning one kind of math to learn more kinds of math may not be an immediately satisfying concept, statistics and calculus are used by many people in their jobs. For example, in my job as research analyst for Demme Learning, I use statistics every day. I help departments identify ways to measure their success. I also use statistics to predict how many books we will sell of each level of Math-U-See and Spelling You See in a year. In general, statistics are used in certain jobs within businesses, the media, health and wellness, politics, social sciences, and many other fields. Understanding statistics makes us wiser consumers of information and better employees and citizens.

Calculus helps us describe many complex processes, such as how the speed of an object changes over time. Scientists and engineers use calculus in research and in designing new technology, medical treatments, and consumer products. Learning calculus is a must for anyone interested in pursuing a career in science, medicine, computer modeling, or engineering.

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### 3) Algebra May Be a Job Skill Later

A student may be confident they are not going into any career needing statistics or calculus, but many people change jobs and entire careers multiple times in their working life. Possessing a firm knowledge and understanding of algebra will make career-related changes smoother.

### 4) Algebra Can Be Useful in Life Outside of the Workplace

I have found algebra helpful in making financial decisions. For example, I use algebra every year to pick a health care plan for my family using two-variable equations to find the break-even point for each option. I have used it in choosing cell phone plans. I even used it when custom-ordering bookshelves for our home. My wife also regularly uses algebra in her crafting.

### 5) Algebra Reinforces Logical Thinking

I would not use algebra as the only means of teaching logic. There are more direct and effective means of doing so, but it is a nice side-benefit that the two subject areas reinforce one another.

### 6) Algebra is Beautiful

The beauty of algebra is an optional benefit because one has to truly choose to enjoy it, but algebra provides us with a basic language to describe so many types of real-world phenomena from gravity to the population growth of rabbits. That five letters can be used to describe how an entire category of matter, namely ideal gases, behaves is amazing and beautiful in its simplicity.

There is also a beauty when we start with a complex-looking problem and combine and simplify over and over until we have one value for each variable. The process can be enjoyable and the result immensely satisfying.

Algebra is an important life skill worth understanding well. It moves us beyond basic math and prepares us for statistics and calculus. It is useful for many jobs some of which a student may enter as a second career. Algebra is useful around the house and in analyzing information in the news. It also reinforces logical thinking and is beautiful.

So, keep an open mind about why we learn algebra and look for ways to share its applications with your student. Dispel the stigma that it is a boring list of rules and procedures to memorize. Instead, consider algebra as a gateway to exploring the world around us. Those are our top reasons why we learn algebra, and there are plenty more. What would you add to the list? Post your suggestions in the comments.

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Songs, music, and rhyme are all helpful tools to aid students with math facts. Download some math songs to sing while you’re outside! There are also activities for when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outside math.

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Megan AI was fascinated by this article. I have heard two of the three reasons given for studying algebra, but still felt that i don’t truly understand why we study algebra. Just two weeks ago, a bank loan officer wanted to sell us a refinance. I am not sure if he had ever heard what I said next, “well, I will crunch the numbers and get back to you concerning whether or not we would like to proceed.” Sure enough, the numbers were not being twisted in our favor. God wants us to be discerning, and algebra can very well be that tool needed to decide if we are using God’s money wisely. Thank you!

DemmeLearningThanks for the comment, Megan, and great example of using math in everyday life.

JillThanks. This will help me explain to my child why he is taking algebra.

DemmeLearningI’m glad we could help. 🙂

Sherri EstesI am 13 years old and I was really wondering why I was taking algebra 2 this helped me realize why

Thank you.

BenI teach 8th and 9th grade math. I will have all my students read and discuss this article. Teachers get this question everyday.

HelenI never persued my love for math after high school but I find myself very curious about why the subject is so important in our lives, especially beyond those basics we all learned in high school . The above comments convinced me to learn more NOW.

AshleyI am 21 and I thought I should learn algebra and calculus , and here it opened my mind more for mathematics.

NormaI’m ready

TinaTo solve a problem in algebra, you identify the problem, consider the variables, develop a plan to solve the problem, implement the plan, and assess your results. You use that same process to solve any problem in life. Algebra trains your brain to solve problems.

Jonathan LinnYou have given one solid POSSIBLE reason. Variables for determining break even. The other five are arbitrary at best. Sooooo…..

IsaacJonathan,

All the reasons for learning algebra are possible reasons.

Like any other skill (whether it be learning to cook or learning to drive a car) you can choose to use algebra every day for the rest of your life or you can choose to never use it again (and get other people to do it for you). It’s really up to you.

Harry E. KellerAlgebra provides the first real introduction to abstraction. Our mental skill set must include abstraction if we are to succeed in today’s world. Those six reasons seem quite nice and have value for many. Abstraction has value for anyone who does not do menial work and even for some who do.

Learn algebra for itself because it provides you with an important tool in your mental toolkit.

AmandaI was curious when I read the title however I still believe class time would be better spent teaching children to manage their own money. That is a maths skill they will use. Algebra should be taught on the job if you need it as most do not. Although I can appreciate you enjoy it which is lovely.

JanyYes indeed. Penn State has a class called The Mathematics of Money(Math 34)It teaches students about investments, credit card debt, stock options, and basic business math. Algebra is useful only if you’re a STEM person. Not for arts students.

ReneeI really hoped to find a good answer to sons’ question as to why he must learn algebra but sadly this was not the case. Number 2 is factual and therefor a reasonable explanation for why one should learn algebra; the other reasons are purely subjective. Yes, it is important to strengthen ones critical thinking skills, and may indeed be useful if one decides to pursue a science or math-based career, but otherwise the pursuit of conquering algebra is without long-lasting purpose.

Karine Lutfiah OktavianaIn my opinion, there are many reasons why we must learn algebra. First, for beginners, algebra is foundational for advanced math classes. Algebra also can solve problems more quickly and easily that can’t be solved only with foundational math skills. Second, algebra is useful for our life. In the modern era, algebra is used in all modern technology, for examples google, internet, mobil phone, and digital television. Third, algebra can reinforces our logical thinking. Learning algebra help us to develop our critical thinking skills, including problem solving, logic, and pattern. In the university, many of major like statistic, pharmacy, and mathematic are required have a good knowledge of algebra. So, algebra is an important subject for our life in the next time.