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Algebra – Do we really need so much practice?

Finely, I was the next in line for the surgery. My anxiety and anticipation had screened the pale walls with the wide orange door away from my consciousness. On my way into the room, I stared at the big metallic machines, next to the flat thin bed. Lying there, I was thinking it's been three weeks since my parents had agreed for me to go through this. Of course they first gave me the entire curriculum of parental refusal attempts: "what ??, we couldn't possibly afford it!" and "It's too risky, you may end up with severe handicap" and even the plain old "it is not good for you to get used for having things come too easy ". But eventually after long discussions, sour faces, threats and guilt feeling - they budged. On the next day we scheduled it, and now after three sleepless weeks, I'm about to actually do it.
The algebra implant surgery. Boy, I can't wait to know how it feels to just have all those equations and word problems be a piece of cake.
Just bring it on and I'll get it done in 20 seconds or less…

As you can imagine, that particular story has never occurred.
Not yet anyway. The algebra implant technology is extremely cool – but yet to be invented. Until then we'll have to overcome algebra in the oldest and most boring way that exists – practice makes perfect. But first let's try to understand the basics: Why do we even need this algebra thing? Is it really a must to study those annoying word problems?
Why do I have to figure out how old is John by knowing that his wife is two years younger and that his son is half his age?
Why can't I just ask him?

Well the reasons are debatable. About 10% think that knowing algebra is imperative since it will equip us with today's modern survival skills we'll need for the rest of our lives. About 13% believe algebra is the key to the mind, and that solving algebraic problems will develop our brain to cope with the everyday problems we encounter. On the other hand 99% of the population agrees that knowing algebra will help in getting the test scores up, and will provide the grades needed in order to get into college.

In any case, it is quite obvious that algebra skills cannot be acquired by making face to the mirror.
Our brain like any other muscle needs to be well trained in order to do complex tasks. And algebra is very complex. It is no longer basic math that requires a single operation to get to the final answer. For instance, a word problem requires understanding the situation, translating plain English into math terms, figuring out what the variables are and how to construct equations, and then the techniques for resolving those equations. Going into it without proper training and practice will be like picking the first 50 people from a shopping mall, asking them to assign one as a coach and then compete for a whole season in the NFL. The chances of success are not very high.
Practice is imperative when it comes to any complex task, whether you're a wide receiver or an algebra student.
However there are ways to cut down the amount of time and frustration involved by using several means and methods, including the Internet. OK, it's been over 500 words already, so I'll write about effective practice, on my next article.