Third twenty in twenty – Mathematics is worthwhile
Personally, I love a good puzzle to work on. So, for that reason, it makes sense I enjoy mathematics more than the average Joe. Still, even with that in mind, I am perplexed at the resistance applied to avoid learning all things mathematical. This topic comes up fairly regularly now I have young children of school age. There disinterest is accentuated by the fact that neither has a definite idea on what they would like to do as a future occupation. I certainly don’t won’t to hit them with the ‘well those occupations require mathematics’ line for fear of encouraging them to avoid those particular occupations. Both kids have resented the mental effort required to learn mathematics at various points. Some of my children’s teachers have even appeared to acquiesce with the students in their dislike of mathematics. Very disappointing.
One worn out argument that is often aimed at mathematics is ‘I will never use it, so what’s the point?’. Indeed, on face value, the argument has value. There are not too many jobs that require employees to break out their pen and paper and start throwing Pythagoras theorem around. Yet, many of those same workers will apply mathematics in an implicit sense. Making sense of dates and times is a frequent task for most. Being able to make adjustments to various measures of magnitude is a given in daily life. Got enough money to buy the milk? How many extra eggs to make that double batch of pancakes? This is not even touching on the more advanced ways we can and do use mathematical thinking, generally without even relating it to the mathematical skills we are actually using. The same skills we learn at school.