Picture this: you're standing at the front of the classroom, guiding your students through the process of factoring trinomials, when suddenly, from the sea of desks, a familiar question emerges: "Why do we even need to learn this?"

It's a question that can sometimes feel frustrating or even challenging, as if it questions your value as a teacher. But the truth is, it's a valid question—one that deserves a thoughtful and clear answer, and it's crucial that we provide it to our students.

I've given a wide variety of answers over the years, but I've honed it down to some version of this:

__Middle School Math__

I believe that the utility of math education up through the middle school years (pretty much anything prior to pre-algebra) is for our students' personal growth in becoming competent people navigating a world that is numerical and quantitative. What I mean is, all of the arithmetic and operations we learn up through about 7th grade is actually useful to people in their everyday lives... often times relating to the use of money. Some examples being calculating discounted prices, figuring out a unit price, estimating a total of your grocery cart before the checkout, etc. Other simple calculations like ratios and proportions are useful as well. Being able to think about the number of gallons you might need to paint your walls if 1 gallon covers 50 square feet, etc.

__High School Math __

It tends to be around pre-algebra that students start questioning the utility of what they are learning, struggling to see how it relates to their lives. And here's where I may have a controversial take. Maybe it's not. But here is.... I don't think that most of the things that are taught in your standard Algebra 1 class are things that people use "in their everyday lives". But I still here this being said. By teachers. That "Algebra is used by everyone everyday". Maybe in some abstract, round-about, "using it without knowing your using" it way this is true. But its not HELPFUL response. Ours students aren't dumb. They know their parents aren't at home calculating the slope of a line, graphing a parabola, multiplying binomials, etc. When we tell them they'll use it everyday and then move on, we've done nothing to make them believe that's the case (because it's not).

So then what's the point? Why do we teach high school level mathematics? Here's my take, and my response. **High school level math becomes relevant in the professions in which its used.** Architects, doctors, engineers, computer programers... these professionals DO graph parabolas, solve polynomial equations, use trigonometric functions. Without that level of mathematics (and far beyond) we wouldn't be using the phones we use, receiving life saving medical interventions, living and working in buildings that aren't collapsing around us, etc. *Higher level mathematics is used to sustain and improve the quality of life of the people around us, through the professionals who use it. *

But what about the students who aren't pursuing a STEM career? It's important to remind them that high school is designed to provide a general, well-rounded education. In these years, they get a taste of various subjects, which helps broaden their horizons and keeps a wide range of opportunities open. The math they learn in high school plays a vital role in creating a foundation for future doctors, engineers, architects, and more. Even if their path doesn't lead to a STEM career, these classes are far from wasted time. They sharpen critical thinking and problem-solving —skills that are valuable in any profession.

## Bình luận