When Am I Ever Going to Use This Math?! Part II
In Part I of this topic, I talked about the fact that this question comes up all the time, and often we don’t have good answers. Students discover the answer to this question themselves in their own lives. But, if all we’re thinking about is a direct use of the math we learn(ed), then we’re missing a very important aspect of the reason to study math.
Even if you never perform long division with a pencil again as you did in the elementary grades, or solve an algebraic equation again the way you did in algebra class, or prove a theorem as you did in geometry, you will still benefit from those experiences in math. “How?!,” you ask.
- By learning a systematic way of thinking
- By learning that following the rules gets you to the right result
- By learning how to think through a process in a logical manner
- By seeing that organizing your steps and showing your work communicates your thinking to others
- By understanding that problems fall into categories, and that learning to solve one problem leads to success in solving others
These are invaluable truths to learn and apply in our lives, in general, and math is the secret agent for developing these skills—skills that are just as important, or maybe even more so for most, than learning some of the math itself.
My husband, a businessman, has always said that the only courses he took in high school and college that taught him how to think were mathematics, in general, and geometry, in particular.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on these points—both students and adults. I’d also be very interested in having you share surprising ways you found that you use math in ways you never thought you would.
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