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## Algebracadabra – Math Shortcuts to Algebra Mastery

Algebra is probably the most important fundamental branch of mathematics. No matter what anyone tells you, if your child isn’t good at algebra, there’s no way they’ll excel in any of the higher branches. In fact, the famous calculus is really a “glorified” form of algebra and that’s what I used to tell my high school students all the time. Therefore, if you want your children to have the chance to study and enter the magnificent intellectual realm of calculus, make sure they have the tools to master algebra.

Algebra is that branch of mathematics that deals with solving equations, using letters to represent unknown quantities. The difficulty with algebra is that for most students the many letters and symbols create an abstraction that is difficult to see clearly. After all, when you see a bunch of x’s and y’s and other expressions involving a host of mathematical symbols, you can quickly lose your footing and your head can start to go off the rails. To ward off this experience, which I call the “algebra syndrome,” students must learn algebra in a way that removes unnecessary abstraction and clears a clear path through the fog of confusion.

If students are shown ways to deal with the inevitable abstractions in algebra, they quickly learn to adapt to them and are not intimidated when they encounter an expression or problem they have never seen before. By learning a few tricks or shortcuts, students gain confidence and are better prepared to take on the challenges that algebra will invariably present. In one of my e-books I talk about new ways to handle and solve equations using the “light switch property”. Another shortcut I teach for solving equations is called the “tollbridge method”. By giving meaningful names to abstract methods, the teacher allows students to visualize the procedure and think about it in a way that makes it more concrete. Once much of the abstraction has been removed, students become proficient in algebra in no time.

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