In a recent post, Seth Godin asks Are you doing math or arithmetic?

I have enormous respect for mathematicians. They’re doing work on the edge, a cross between art and science and music.

Arithmeticians, not so much. They are merely whacking at a calculator, doing repetitive work better done by a computer or someone cheaper.

That last sentence accurately describes much of our K12 “math” curriculum, including Algebra.

Except that most of the time, we have the kids whacking away without calculators.