July 13, 2024

Why Math?

According to Wikipedia, “Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes.” Other sources have similar definitions but I would like to pose a different perspective. I think that what most people think of as math  is an artificial system created by humans to help us make sense of our universe.

I know, sacrilege!!! How dare I, a math teacher, say such a thing!!! We should worship the formulas, systems and algorithms created by the geniuses that came before us and accept them all as some universal law or language!!! Whereas in reality we should do exactly the opposite. We should question everything. We should accept everything done and created under the guise of Mathematics as just a stepping stone toward a greater understanding of our universe. Does that mean that we shouldn’t study or learn it? Absolutely not!!! In fact we should be studying, learning and doing it more.

Reasons to learn and do MORE MATH

1. So we can pass more tests. Like it or not, the ability to pass higher level math tests, answer high level math questions on general tests or pass high level math classes will determine our choices in the future. No matter what career path a young person might choose there is a high likelihood that they will need to take a test and their results will determine their choices. Military? ASVAB College? 94% of the top 100 paying degrees require higher math. Corporate? Yep Math again

2. So we can be more successful. No matter what you want to do in life, success, no matter how you define it, is just a series of problems. The better we are at solving problems the more successful we will be. Want to make more money? Find a date? Buy a house? Be a better surfer/basketball/football player/lover? They are all just problems. The better we are at solving them the more successful we are. Doing math high powered, high cognitive demand trains us to become better problem solvers, no matter what type of problems we want to solve.

3. So we can be smarter. Modern technology allows us to actually look inside someone’s brain while they are doing math and surprise, surprise, the more math we do the more our brain grows. Just like the more weight we lift the more our muscles grow. Somehow I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that actually wishes that they were dumber.

I could go on and on but learning math is important for everyone. I might even go so far as to say that helping more people learn more high powered math could be the most important thing we can do to help make our world a better place.