Thursday, September 27, 2007

math in life

It seems that every time I meet with some of my colleagues in the school and see some of the applications that they are bringing to their students in class, it makes me reflect on the math that I teach. I always hear students and parents talk about when am I going to use this. I look at some of the curriculum and wonder the same thing myself. It makes me think, what should we be teaching? Are there subjects that should be taught to students that would be more applicable to what they are going to see in their future? Should we focus more math on applications like home mortgages, credit card interest, taxes and other things that you might not learn in school? I need to figure out how math is going to affect these kids in their future if it does not include an engineering degree. I guess that my question becomes an interpretation of the students question: Why do I teach this?

5 Comments:

Blogger A. Bradley said...

Wow, James. Deep thoughts. I loved math in high school because it was a challenge. But do I use it now? No. I ask myself frequently, "How do I keep physical education relevant and useful?" I always come back to lifelong health. What is relevant when you are teaching math? What are your, your departments, the states thoughts in regards to math?

I like the idea of learning about mortgages, credit cards, and taxes. Practical stuff. What about saving for retirement, 401ks, insurance, banking, stock market, etc... I had no idea how complicated all of the financial aspects of life could be. I would like to take a class on all of that now. Would you be willing to go to the board with a new course and could I take it?

11:09 AM  
Blogger J said...

Bradley's main target of
'lifelong health' could translate to math like 'lifelong practicality'. Even though I might not need to graph a line from an equation in life, I can still use problem solving tactics I have learned, like different approaches to the same problem like the decision of using "Tic-tac-toe factoring" or "Guess n' Check" to factor the same format in a problem. So, when trying to figure out where else you will use an uncommonly used math skill, don't ask "where will I use what I have learned", but ask "where will I use what I have learned while I was learning"

Just another perspective...
--J. Sheeran

1:33 PM  
Blogger Xavia H2011 said...

Dear James H,
This blog caught my eye as I was reading through some of your posts.
Your questions made me think about my future in math. I know it is important, but like you asked, where will we use it as an adult. I also thought it was interesting about what one of your commenter had said, from a. bradley…
"I loved math in high school because it was a challenge. But do I use it now? No."
I personally don't enjoy math, but now to think that all that I am learning won't be worth it, well that is something else. However, I most definitely agree with you about how schools should focus on teaching real world math in high school and college. I think this is a lot more important to learn than have to spend so much time learning theorems and equations. I guess it depends on what you will do in your future.

6:11 AM  
Blogger kellyS said...

Xavia,
You did a good job on speaking clearly and loudly during your presentation. Try to make just a little more eye contact. Great Job!

9:00 AM  
Blogger avereel said...

Mr. Holman,
I really agree with what you talked about in this post. So many times, I myself start thinking about how pi is ever going to come up in my life. A lot of students question the importance of the things we learn in math, and your right, its time to teach what we need to learn. Most of us wont grow up and find a career where the type of math we are currently learning is useful. In our futures, we are probably going to see a lot more of taxes and bills, and a lot less of the Pythagorean theorem. Students need to be taught how to function in the real world. As you stated, we need to be taught about mortgages, interest, and other challenges that we will face during and after college. I will admit, learning about tangents and cosines makes me feel infinitely smarter, but its time to learn something that will make me truly successful in life.

-AvereeL

6:58 PM  

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