# Algebra 2 Problem Solving

But as Lorena Barba --- an honest-to-goodness computational scientist --- has pointed out, many of these recent formulations have drifted away from the original intention of "computational thinking" which is due to Seymour Papert.

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If we're going to make a compelling argument, we can't lead off with opinions disguised as facts. I have written a lot about computational thinking in the past (here and here for starters), but despite this and how much I've worked computational thinking into my teaching, the fact is that what we actually mean by this term is very fuzzy today.

Jeanette Wing's paper is the usual go-to reference for computational thinking basics, and various folks (including Google) have built on this.

He's a smart guy with interesting ideas about the role of technology in our lives, including education, and I learned a lot from his keynote address.

I was also grateful he took some time out to talk with me about my sabbatical at Steelcase, and he was gracious and generous, despite dealing with the usual last-minute chaos of getting ready for a big talk. No adult in America still does integrals and derivatives by hand - the calculus that blocks so many from career paths.

article speaks about "computational thinking", what does it have in mind?

Is it Papert's idea of "progressively deepening understanding" --- and if it is, what exactly do we want students to understand?

That gets me to the next issue: Issue #2: Conflating "Algebra 2" with symbol manipulation. Usually it is a big course with a lot going on inside it.

The most memorable (for better or worse, mostly worse) thing that happens in Algebra 2 is a lot of rote symbolic manipulation, like factoring cubic polynomials or other actions which can, I will readily agree, be charitably categorized as party tricks (for very special kinds of parties) and nothing more.

But I don't see these ideas coming up in what's called "computational thinking" here, which remember is characterized as "understanding problems and valuables [] associated" along with "just in time coding".

How is a student supposed to "understand" the structure of a problem without some formal study, at least self-study, of these Algebra 2 topics?

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