“Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to need this in my career.” Is one of the most commonly heard complaints in a math classroom. Especially after the basics are completed and problems and equations become more complicated, it can be hard for students to see why math is necessary. After school many people will never be faced with a quadratic equation again and things like sine and cosine functions are rarely a part of everyday tasks. Not to mention the convenience technology now offers. Almost any math problem can be plugged into a calculator or google and answered faster and more accurately than people can solve themselves.
However it’s important for kids to understand the relevance of math and learn to take it seriously. Math is important in all sorts of ways! Math teachers and tutors would likely deem it most important subject of them all! Although it’s true that memorizing Pythagorean’s theorem might not seem like it will have any tangible benefits in one’s life, the process of learning mathematical formulas and functions teaches invaluable lessons. Listed below are 5 reasons math is more important than it seems.
Math is Everywhere!
Now there might not be equations written on the wall everywhere we go but math truly is everywhere! Math has a function in every single thing around us. From the measurements of a cabinet to the slope of a waterslide, math can be found in every aspect of the world. In fact, most of the sciences, from physics to neurochemistry, were founded upon mathematical principles. All of the laws that govern the natural world, from gravity to Einstein’s law of relativity, have to do with math!
It might sound exaggerated but it’s the truth. Math is a foundational building block for understanding the world around us. What math is really about, and what it teaches kids, is finding and locating patterns. And patterns make up the world! Take the Fibonacci Sequence, this mathematical concept explains and breaks down all sorts of patterns; from musical scales and the patterns on snail shells to the design of our DNA. Ancient mathematical discoveries have paved the way for so many discoveries about world around us! It can be hard to understand the big picture of math at times but understanding it is the key to understanding the universe! If students are taught and reminded of the importance of math in the world, it will unlock their curiosity and give them a new perspective to viewing everything around them.
Math is Necessary for Innovation
Without math there would be no computers, no cars, no phones. The world today would look very different. Even seemingly old fashioned inventions like the wheel or the lightbulb have foundations in math. Every single technological advance, from ancient discoveries to the modern smartphone, can be attributed to a mathematical breakthrough. Math is the force driving the world forward. Throughout history geniuses such as Pythagoras and Einstein have made mathematical breakthroughs that led to innovations that changed the world. Mathematician Katherine Johnson used her mathematical discoveries to help NASA put Neil Armstrong on the Moon! And just think what new innovations we could have in the future if students continue to learn and innovate just as they have for thousands of years!
All Jobs use Math
Since Math is everywhere it should come as no surprise that every career requires at least a basic understanding of math. People often think that math is only important for those who plan on pursuing a career in accounting, engineering or computer science. But Math is actually important for all jobs. You might not expect to find math in art classes, but mathematic ratios and rules of geometry play an important role in making beautiful and symmetrical artwork. And statistics are necessary for all sorts of careers, like business, marketing sports, and even journalism. These workers need some knowledge of statistics to understand trends, collect data, and more. In any career path a good understanding of math will prove beneficial.
It’s All About the Process
Math is all about finding the right answer. It’s very black and white. You either get the right answer or you don’t. Even if a student works hard and slaves away trying to figure out an equation if they don’t get the right number it’s wrong. In this way math is very concrete. This is different than other subjects such as English, in which as long as one can argue their point, they can be considered right. This can be extremely frustrating to students. To some it may feel that no matter how much work and time they put in to understand a problem they just keep getting it wrong. But the concrete nature of mathematics is actually an excellent way to teach problem solving skills. Math teaches students to use previously learned concepts to a hard problem and stick through solving it until they get it right, trying again and again and looking at the problem from new angles. This is hard work! And the principles and discipline studying math required are lessons that extend far beyond the classroom and into other facets of life.
Math is for Everyone
Lots of students decide early on that they simply are bad at math. It’s who they are and they can’t change it. Maybe they struggled to understand some concepts or failed some tests, felt helpless, and eventually decided they would never be good and just gave up. But this idea of being innately bad at a subject is a myth. No one is born worse at math than anyone else.
In fact, research shows that students’ capacity for mathematics is consistent across the board. This means students are actually a lot more equal in their innate ability for mathematics than they believe. What does matter is the way a student perceives their ability. This is a major indicator of how they will perform. If a student doesn’t believe they are good they won’t be. But with the right resources almost all students have the same mathematical capacity. This is why good mentors and teachers are so critical! Students need the encouragement and the push to practice, work hard, and believe in themselves. So when your child is struggling with math it’s important to be patient, encouraging and help them work through the problem from new angles.
In conclusion, math is frustrating and it is intimidating. The different fields in math and the coded language of numbers and equations are prime ground for confusion. It can often feel like a foreign language to teenagers. But the hard work of learning and working through mathematics is worth it! Because it is about so much more than finding the right answer. It is about learning to think critically and analytically, learning when to apply certain principles and recognize patterns, and perhaps most importantly it is about learning to work hard and tackle problems head on even when they are difficult. Mastering these skills will have positive implications in any student’s life no matter what career they choose. And the good news is, with the right mentorship is all students can be good at math!
About The Author
Eric M. Earle is the founder of tutorportland.com and co-founder of zoomtutor.com. Having struggled with math growing up, he uses his newfound mastery to help today’s students.