Submitted by Nicole Gerace, Mathematics teacher at Sterling Academy
In my career as a Middle and High School Mathematics teacher, on many occasions I have been asked, “Why do I need Math?”
The truth is, we use math everyday. When we tell time, follow a recipe, estimate how much money we can spend at the grocery store or how much money we will save by using coupons, etc., math is involved. Sure, these might just require the basic math skills we learn in elementary school, but these are just a few examples of why we need math. Math teaches us how to think logically and aids in our problem solving skills. Using math at any level increases a person’s intelligence and develops thinking.
In addition, math is known as a universal language because the prinicpals of math are the same everywhere around the world. Regardless of whether you use Arabic numbers (5+5=10) or Roman Numerals (V + V = X), the concept of 10 is the same. The same is true with geometric figures. Triangles, squares, rectangles, circles, etc, are the same all over the world and their perimeter and area are calculated the same way no matter where you are.
As far as algebra and other higher level maths are concerned, these provide the abstract reasoning skills that help students become better abstract reasoners in general. Good abstract reasoning skills improve a student's ability to write a coherent essay, for example, since essays require the writer to shift back and forth between abstract concepts and specific supporting facts. Many life skills, including choosing a career, making major purchases, running a business, and managing a family also require reasoning skills that are improved by math study. In addition, success in algebra correlates highly with success in higher education.
Above all, math is meant to be fun. All too often students are imtimidated by math courses. Introducing strange numbers and odd symbols which have never been seen before can be scary. If you look at math as a game, puzzle, or code to be figured out or cracked, you may be more willing to challenge yourself. Once you understand the new concepts, you will see how rewarding and fun math can be!
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