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Why Do I Need Math?

Study or office stationary

“When will I ever use this stuff?” It seems that this question rings out in middle school & high school Math classrooms all over the country, &, honestly, it is a valid thing to ask, especially when the content is starting to overwhelm a student.  So…why DO students need to learn Math?  There are some practical, real-life applications, such as…

  1. Dealing with money.  No matter what career path a student takes, being able to add, subtract, multiply, divide, count, measure, & estimate are essential skills to managing one’s money, making purchases, discerning if one deal is better than another, & the like.  Also, having at least a basic understanding of fractions, decimals, & percentages is important if a person is to understand how money works.
  2. Cooking.  Recipes often involve fractions, and, if a person is making a double- or half-batch of cookies, for instance, he or she would need to be able to change all of the ingredient amounts accordingly.
  3. Carpentry/construction/house renovation.  These tasks regularly use fractional measurements, unit conversions, area, & perimeter, just to name a few practical mathematical concepts.

(credit to Math teacher John Bennett for pointing out these practical areas)

But what about the upper levels of Math?  The fact is that you likely knew most of the concepts discussed above by the time you completed 6th grade.  Even for those who do not choose to go into Math-heavy vocations, there are numerous benefits.

  1. Logical reasoning.  Math teaches deductive reasoning (being able to follow a set of steps to a logical conclusion) as well as inductive reasoning (being able to use patterns to make generalizations), problem- solving skills that are valuable in practically any venture a student may undertake.
  2. Persistence.  The esteemed Albert Einstein himself said, “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics.  I can assure you mine are still greater.” Math isn’t necessarily supposed to be easy.  But not everything in life is, either, and the ability to persevere, to stick with a problem until you can solve it, is a tremendously important life skill.  It helps that Math problems have objective answers, so a student can tell when he or she has succeeded in answering them.  There is a sense of satisfaction when you are able to tackle a tough problem and find that you can handle it.

Still not convinced?  Take a few minutes to watch this excellent video from WeUseMath.org.  In it, the experts that are interviewed discuss the fact that people with Math skills can make a huge impact on society in general, and that they are highly valued in the job market (perhaps in part because so many people shy away from Math).  One of the interviewees makes the point that of the 15 most lucrative careers in a study, all 15 had one common thread: all include a high level of Math knowledge.

As a parent, keep an open mind to how your child may be able to use Math in his or her future, & how it may equip your child for his or her life.  Do your best to not let any anxiety you may personally have about Math filter down to your child.

Feeling unequipped to help your student with Math?  Contact Sylvan Learning of Lancaster or Palmyra – we would be happy to design an individualized learning plan for your student and to help him or her gain confidence & understanding of the subject.

“Math is like going to the gym for your brain.  It sharpens your mind.” – Danica McKellar