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What is the goal of the CLAA Algebra courses?

There are many different ways to study Algebra online.  My children enjoy “Teaching Textbooks”, others enjoy Khan Academy or IXL.  These programs provide thousands and thousands of graded exercises that allow students to practice solving problems in Algebra.

What they all lack is an emphasis on the study of the actual principles of Algebra as a mathematical science. It’s always revealing to ask a student “What is Algebra?” and see the blank stare that follows.  The actual definitions, rules and principles of Algebra are often unlearned.

What’s unfortunate about this is that on standardized tests, like the SAT, the ability to solve high school Algebra problems is not tests.  The standardized tests assess students’ ability to use the principles and rules of Algebra to solve problems they’ve never seen before.  This is what modern students don’t learn.  We can fix this.

In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we are not going to give much attention (if any) to exercises.  That’s already available to students. There are exercises included in the Algebra course textbook, and the answers are provided as well.  Students can work on the problems and check their answers.  If they don’t understand a certain set of problems, they can ask for help.  We, however, are going to make sure our students have the opportunity to mastery the science of Algebra.  

I have laid out the entire course and simplified the activities.  It is going to be a very efficient Algebra course that gives strong students the opportunity to study and master the principles of Algebra.  There will be simple written reviews after every lesson and cumulative examinations (the final course examination is already available).  

While modern Mathematics is not the focus of our work in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, I have been unhappy courses we have made available.  I believe I have established a clear vision for modern Mathematics courses in the CLAA and what their goal will be.  I hope that many students will take advantage of these courses and not just settle for modern Algebra courses that neglect the principles.

I will be doing the same for Algebra II and higher mathematics courses.

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