Arabic numerals taught in American Schools

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Americans polled said Arabic numerals should not be taught

Al-Khawarizmi was a Muslim who invented mathematics in the year 800

A recent poll from CivicScience, an American market research company, has revealed what the CEO of the company is calling “the saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we’ve ever seen in our data.” The question they asked in their poll was

“Should schools in America teach Arabic numerals as part of their curriculum?” was the question posed to 3,624 respondents: 2,020 of them, or 56 percent, said “no.”

Poll Question from CivicScience

The problem with the question is CivicScience did not define “Arabic numerals” and based upon the high “NO” response the poll appears invalid. Would 56% of Americans have said they do not want Arabic numerals taught in school if they understood the full implication?

In the United States, we do not teach Arabic numbers unless we are teaching Arabic as a foreign language. However, we do teach math which originated in Eastern Asia. Specifically, algorithms or the method of computation with the Arabic numerals 1 through 9, plus the zero. It also includes algebra, geometry and calculus which was initially created by Babylonians and further branched out by the Arabs.

When people ask who created Algebra, there is really two answers The Babylonians were the first who should receive credit, but the Arabs are widely credited for the creation for the branches of mathematics.

Who Invented Algebra

As can be seen from the word itself, algebra (al-jabr) one of the basic operations discussed in the influential book made by Arabs about the subject of mathematics, contributed a lot to the subject. The modern word that is algebra came into being only when the book was translated from Arabic into Latin by a Western scholar who titled the translated work Liber algebrae et almucabala.

Whether we want to think it was the Babylonians or the Arabs that discovered or influenced Algebra, we simply would not have had Algebra and other advance math without the Arabs. It is a simple fact. The Arabs are known for many other incredible advances in science and medicine also. As an advanced Western world, we can either be thankful for their incredible knowledge and contribution or we can show the world how incredibly divisive and racist we are as a country.

In fact, the digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are Arabic numerals, developed in the 6th or 7th century in India and later introduced to Europe through the writings of Middle Eastern mathematicians, most notably Al-Khwarizmi and Al-Kindi, in the 12th century. These numerals paved the way for complex math systems, like algebra, which replaced archaic counting methods like the abacus.

From my perspective, it doesn’t matter who created these magnificent numerals. We use them throughout our lives. To say we should not use them because they were created by the Eastern Indians, Babylonians or the Arabs is foolish. Think about how we use numbers and how children progress through school into algebra. Algebra becomes the basis of so many careers that young people strive for today including engineering, architecture, medicine, and science, My granddaughter uses geometry and algebra in art and on the tennis court.

Don’t take math away from kids because people in this country are nationalist or uneducated.