I will admit that my initial reaction to this article was to scoff and think that it's ridiculous. Understanding basic algebra, to me, seems fundamental to understand a variety of other important things -- including some forms of logic and statistics. So, I wondered how dropping algebra as a requirement might make those already lacking fields even worse.California's two university systems, for instance, consider applications only from students who have taken three years of mathematics and in that way exclude many applicants who might excel in fields like art or history. Community college students face an equally prohibitive mathematics wall. A study of two-year schools found that fewer than a quarter of their entrants passed the algebra classes they were required to take.

"There are students taking these courses three, four, five times," says Barbara Bonham of Appalachian State University. While some ultimately pass, she adds, "many drop out."

Another dropout statistic should cause equal chagrin. Of all who embark on higher education, only 58 percent end up with bachelor's degrees. The main impediment to graduation: freshman math. The City University of New York, where I have taught since 1971, found that 57 percent of its students didn't pass its mandated algebra course. The depressing conclusion of a faculty report: "failing math at all levels affects retention more than any other academic factor." A national sample of transcripts found mathematics had twice as many F's and D's compared as other subjects.

However, Hacker's piece actually suggests something of a solution: potentially replacing algebra

I will admit to being unsure how such a class will workInstead of investing so much of our academic energy in a subject that blocks further attainment for much of our population, I propose that we start thinking about alternatives. Thus mathematics teachers at every level could create exciting courses in what I call "citizen statistics." This would not be a backdoor version of algebra, as in the Advanced Placement syllabus. Nor would it focus on equations used by scholars when they write for one another. Instead, it would familiarize students with the kinds of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.

It could, for example, teach students how the Consumer Price Index is computed, what is included and how each item in the index is weighted - and include discussion about which items should be included and what weights they should be given.

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All of that might make a lesser man reconsider the original faulty premise. But not Gladwell. Not only is he standing by his initial thesis, he's backing it up with the intellectually void argument that because people organized and toppled governments prior to Twitter, it means that Twitter isn't a big deal in these protests and regime changes:

In other words, if something happened before a technology came about, then technology has no impact on it later on. This is laughably bad logic. Just because something happened without technology X, doesn't mean that technology X has no impact on it. Of course, this has now created something of a meme on Twitter, kicked off by Jeff Jarvis, called #GladwellLogic, in which you try to apply that same logic to other things. Jarvis kicked it off by pointing out:I mean, in East Germany, a million people gathered in the streets of Berlin. They were - the percentage of people in East Berlin in East Germany who even had a telephone in 1989 was 13 percent, right?

So, I mean, in cases where there are no tools of communication, people still get together. So I don't see that as being a - in looking at history, I don't see the absence of efficient tools of communication as being a limiting factor on the ability people to socially

It's not hard to come up with your own examples:#GladwellLogic: People were smart before there were books, therefore books don't make us smarter.

- #GladwellLogic: Wars happened before there were nuclear weapons, submarines, machine guns or airplanes. Therefore, none of those things impact war.
- #GladwellLogic: People got from point A to point B before there were cars. Therefore, cars have no impact on transportation.
- #GladwellLogic: People produced stuff prior to there being electric lighting. Therefore, lightbulbs had no impact on productivity.
- #GladwellLogic: People made music before machines could record it. Therefore, recorded music had no impact on music.

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