Why do people have to learn algebra?

My answer to a question on Quora: Why do people have to learn algebra? You have no use for it.?

It could be argued indeed that it is wrong that everyone is forced to learn algebra at school.

However, without (pretty basic, between us) school algebra further study mathematics, or statistics, or computer programming is impossible.

Not learning algebra dramatically narrows further educational choices. Catching up later is very difficult — if you have not learnt algebra as a child or, at the latest, in your teen years, to do this later is of course possible but requires a degree of determination and self-discipline not normally found in general population.

Therefore, without algebra, the education system is less democratic. This is already a heavy price to pay.

In general, mathematical education is increasingly the issue of democracy.

Proper mastery of mathematics gives a person the ability to create in the head mental images of complex systems and operate with them, see them. We are surrounded by complex systems, we drown in them — in stuff starting from smartphones to the Internet and social media . Very complex computer programs make more and more decisions on peoples’ lives – whether someone can be hired to a particular job, or given a bank credit, or sold a a particular insurance policy, and so on.

Properly mathematically educated people are sighted among the blind.

If you wish to stay blind – it is your choice. Or you may think that it is entirely your choice. Actually it could happen that it is already pre-determined by a dismally bad education which, most likely, had been offered to you so far — otherwise, perhaps, you would not ask the question “ Why do people have to learn algebra?”.