Also on the editorial pages of the Saturday Post, a professor emeritus of mathematics asks an excellent question: Do we really need all this math?.
How much math do you really need in everyday life? Ask yourself that — and also the next 10 people you meet, say, your plumber, your lawyer, your grocer, your mechanic, your physician or even a math teacher.
Unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to everyday life. That courses such as “Quantitative Reasoning” improve critical thinking is an unsubstantiated myth. All the mathematics one needs in real life can be learned in early years without much fuss. Most adults have no contact with math at work, nor do they curl up with an algebra book for relaxation.
As someone who spent many years trying to market Algebra and Geometry to many students for whom the experience would be of little value, I must confess… I agree.
Kids certainly need to develop a basic number sense and some basic arithmetical skills during their time in school, especially how to efficiently using a calculator.
And their lives would be far better off if they graduated understanding the fundamental concepts behind probability and statistics to help them cope with the deceptive practices behind the way most polling is used, as well as the fraud run by many governments known as the lottery.
But for most students the four years of math courses they stumble through in high school, not to mention struggling with such incredibly useless skills as dividing fractions in earlier grades, is valuable time that could be far better used in their young lives.