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Why do we need to learn Math?


FlorenceHamilton

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As a group we have had several spirited discussions about how to best educate the next generation. Many contributors have discussed the fact that not everything worth learning is easy or immediately rewarding to learn. Math is the great beast in education. Some people gravitate to Mathematics easily and some people find it a vile undertaking of uncertain usefulness. I was a child fascinated by science and yet petrified of Math. Yet, I was trained by my family and by my school environment to persevere. I did so with some reluctance and completed courses all the way through quantum mechanics. It is at this point where math becomes physics. Physics becomes chemistry. Chemistry becomes biology. Biology becomes geometry.

Let us look at nature. Every leaf on every plant has its leaves distributed in exactly the same pattern. The pattern is based on a proportion between a sequence of numbers discovered and named after a man named Fibonacci. Fibonacci lived around 1200 CE. He discovered this series of numbers which is created by starting with 0 and 1 and them adding them together which would be another 1. Then add 1+1 and getting 2. Then adding 1+2 to get three. Then adding 2+3 to get 5.

So the sequence looks like this:

0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, 34, 55, 89, 144....

The proportions between these numbers create geometric shapes and relationships that NECESSARILY exist EVERYWHERE in all of the galaxies. The truth of this has been unfailingly shown as far as the Hubble telescope has looked and every electron microscope has probed. It does not matter how small we go or how large, this geometry has held true.

Look at the spiral of a pine cone. Notice that the spiral is perfect both clockwise and counterclockwise in every single specimen. It has exactly the same formula as a nautilus shell and as a hurricane as viewed from a satellite. The same exact formula. Exactly. The number of petals on different flowers may differ, however, they are always a Fibonacci number. The proportions of the parts of living things are always a proportion of Fibonacci numbers, also known as phi, or 1.168. This is true of the proportion between each tiny finger bone of your hand, the features of the human, and every other creature's face, all of our body parts to one another, the orbits of planets, the shape of the galaxies.

Math is very difficult to learn. It something that we must often encourage ourselves and in turn our children to master the self discipline to learn. The reason is because without Math, we would not have music, we would not have the beauty of nature, we would not have poetry, we would certainly not have the technology to communicate with one another as we do. Without Math, we would not have the ability to vibrate the air with our larynx and hear it with our ears. We would not have eyes that see.

The more Math that a young person can force into their heads in their youth, the more beauty they can appreciate in their lifetimes.

Would you really want to deny this to your children?

Why learn Mathematics? Mathemetics is the essence of life.

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Even if you don't use the math learned in school in your everyday life, taking the time to learn math teaches you problem solving skills, analytical skills, spatial skills, and critical thinking skills. All of those skills are just as, if not more, valuable than remembering for to solve quadratic equations. Math helps teach those skills.

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I think math taught me how to deal with challenging subjects. I am otherwise intelligent, but not so good at either math or physics. I had to work harder than I ever have. I have learned that there is nothing so difficult that I should avoid the subject altogether. That even the most impossible equation will become entirely understandable and workable with enough practice. Those are definitely applicable to real life.

(I hear you on the Fibonacci, I am always pointing out that pattern to my kids!)

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Some people gravitate to Mathematics easily and some people find it a vile undertaking of uncertain usefulness.

I'm part of the mathphobic crowd, and that's why I would not feel comfortable homeschooling. Anything verbal, I can handle but math is like the monster under my bed. I managed to pull off a C in Algebra II in high school because I planned to go to college, and I was more proud of that C than some of my As.

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I'm part of the math phobic crowd, and that's why I would not feel comfortable homeschooling. Anything verbal, I can handle but math is like the monster under my bed. I managed to pull off a C in Algebra II in high school because I planned to go to college, and I was more proud of that C than some of my As.

I was definitely Math phobic. It was a real exercise in self discipline to learn to do the courses required to reach my career goal. To be honest, I did the advanced math courses only because they were part of the gauntlet I needed to survive to get to my degree.

What I am sharing is that I could never have imagined that the things that I crammed into my resistant mind would end up giving me great joy. Had I not been forced to do the uncomfortable task of reasonable mastery of Algebra, of Trigonometry, of Calculus and QM, I could never have revisited those topics later in life and seen the beauty that I do. It was past 40 when I began to study sacred geometry. I would never be able to appreciate the beauty of Mathematics I discovered on my own if i did not have the basic skills drilled into me when I was much younger. Given the option, I would have opted out.

Sometimes we just do not know the value of things we are taught at the time they are presented. We do it as an exercise of self discipline. If I had to try to pick up calculus for the first time in my 40's, I do not think my brain would be plastic enough to learn the drudgery of these basic skills or see the concepts behind them. I do remember in college, seeing the potential beauty, but not having the time or inclination to nurture it. I just wanted to get my "requirements" done.

Lifelong learning is to me the centerpiece of being fully human. The stronger and more diverse the platform we are given in our youth, the more fully human we can ever become.

If a person is committed to lifelong learning, then all venues are learning places. The home, the world around us, formal schools, private classes and tutors, parent/community educational co-ops...all have a place. The proportion of each depends on the skill, the time, the inclination and the resources available to the parents and children. The only failure is when limits are placed on learning whether by force or by neglect.

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I think we need to learn math so we can count how many active threads there are about it... :lol:

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I know a lot of people hate math (I liked it up until high school calculus at which point I tolerated it in order to pursue my love affair with the sciences), but you need it for so many things. For one, you need it for a fair number of jobs (I'm always helping one of my co-workers calculate people's change when she hits the wrong button on the cash because she hasn't practised basic adding and subtraction in years). Things like basic graph plotting are necessary for most people to understand. And everyone needs to know how to use a basic calculator. I don't think it's fair to force students who don't plan on going into science, engineering or business to learn more advanced math than that, though.

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I'm part of the mathphobic crowd, and that's why I would not feel comfortable homeschooling. Anything verbal, I can handle but math is like the monster under my bed. I managed to pull off a C in Algebra II in high school because I planned to go to college, and I was more proud of that C than some of my As.

I have struggled with maths my whole life. In secondary school I would often sit up till late at night crying, trying to get my maths homework done. I was a straight A girl in every other subject (apart from Physics, which is very maths-based anyway), but I scraped a C in maths.

I think it is very difficult for people who 'get' maths to understand how confusing it is for people who don't. And in my experience this seems to include maths teachers. I am an intelligent person and I don't think my teachers realised the extend that numbers baffled me, and when they couldn't make me understand they wrote me off as being difficult. I was actually moved to another class at one point because of my 'difficult personality'!

My children are 8 and 6 and I already find it difficult to explain maths concepts to them. Luckily, while I am a 'language and art' person, my husband is a 'maths and science' guy so between us we've got it covered! I would hate to be responsible for my kids mathematical education.

Strangely enough, my mum failed her maths O-level 3 times, then spend her working life in a bank. You never know.

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Why learn any subject? Does the colouring in you did in kindergarten make you a better person? Did school sport really help you learn to be fit and healthy? Did studying ancient cultures in history prepare you for life in the workforce?

All the things we learn at school can look pointless if we look at them in isolation. Colouring in, in itself, is not an essential life skill. However, by colouring in I practiced fine motor skills and as a professional musician, these are essential to my career. Art was always my most hated subject at school and a subject I did very badly in. It seemed SOOO pointless. It took me a long time to realise what the teacher was trying to teach me and I now use those skills everyday. Not the bit about holding a paintbrush or pen but the bit about being creative.

Maths was always my favourite subject. Every made sense and everything was easy and I topped my school in Yr 12. Don't use those skills much today, just shopping and paying bills but don't regret learning any of it. Learning things can be fun, even if you never use what you have learnt. Teachers understand this. Homeschoolers (in general) don't.

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I have struggled with maths my whole life. In secondary school I would often sit up till late at night crying, trying to get my maths homework done. I was a straight A girl in every other subject (apart from Physics, which is very maths-based anyway), but I scraped a C in maths.

I think it is very difficult for people who 'get' maths to understand how confusing it is for people who don't. And in my experience this seems to include maths teachers. I am an intelligent person and I don't think my teachers realised the extend that numbers baffled me, and when they couldn't make me understand they wrote me off as being difficult. I was actually moved to another class at one point because of my 'difficult personality'!

My children are 8 and 6 and I already find it difficult to explain maths concepts to them. Luckily, while I am a 'language and art' person, my husband is a 'maths and science' guy so between us we've got it covered! I would hate to be responsible for my kids mathematical education.

Strangely enough, my mum failed her maths O-level 3 times, then spend her working life in a bank. You never know.

I'm the same as you (though my mum never worked in a bank!) Maths terrified me as a kid and I would just weep over my homework. My parents aren't that great at it either and though they could help me fairly easily when I was still in the lower years of secondary school they were as lost as I was when I got to Fourth Year. I was sweating blood and tears when it got to my GCSE exams, I worked so hard and had constant nightmares about failing and having to retake the year. As it was I passed and never looked back.

I enjoyed Maths when I could do it, like Algebra and this thing called the nth rule, but stuff like probability and shapes and space were lost on me. I think the worst part was when you had to give an answer to something and the teacher expects you to know, and you don't, and you just feel worse and worse and more and more pathetic and you can tell how impatient they're getting.

I have mixed feelings towards Maths. In some ways I enjoy the challenge it gives me and the feeling of triumph when you get something right but the idea of looking at geomatry again makes me feel sick, and I still blank at logic questions. I panic and my mind blanks. I think they were worded badly in school - I mean, why would I want to help measure someone's shadow? I didn't care so I didn't want to try and I just felt frustrated the whole time.

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I just wan t to clarify that I am not at all a mathemetician. I cannot sitd own this moment and work complex calculus equations. Because I did (get a B the first semester and a C the second) once force my brain to learn to work these equations, I begin to comprehend the importance and the meaning behind them. Like many things that have recessed deep into the catacombs of my brain, it would take some work to actually do the mechanical part.

Yet, because I once did these things, I am able to see the way that these ideas shape everything in the world. My point is (and the people who have shared on this thread have confirmed) that the value of the things we are compelled to learn against our inclination is often unseen until much later. This is why it is our job as parents and teachers and role models to sometimes ask ourselves and the young people around us to master skills that we often would simply rather not.

There is a difference between education and training. It is easy to confuse the two. It is possible to be trained to do a skill that often leads to a job. An education gives to the skill set to train for any job you wish....and to do so multiple times at need and at desire throughout your life.

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I was brilliant at maths until the last couple of years of high school when it all fell apart and I started becoming very average and really struggled. By that time I knew I was more humanities-orientated and that's what I focussed on at uni. People kept saying if I dropped maths I'd regret it, but that wasn't true at all. There was never a time I missed it. Then again, I did have very solid foundations until Year 10, so I could do all the simple things I needed for everyday life (which wasn't much).

I suppose it helps your logic skills and other related ones, but I think a basic understanding is enough for a lot of professions. I know a lot of lawyers who often joke about how bad they are at maths.

I've actually started doing some uni maths courses in my spare time now I'm older, because I always regret not getting to grips with the harder stuff like calculus in school, but it's not really working out any better than it did the first time. I'm also learning some science though and I am realising its importance in a lot of science.

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As an engineer, I don't actually DO the multivariable calculus and differential equations that I learned about in undergrad and grad school. However, a lot of my job requires that I understood and synthesized those concepts and was able to apply them to problems in mechanics, thermodynamics, and other areas of my field. For example, a problem I'm working on at the moment is toxicity of smoke in a fire. The basis of combustion toxicity is dosage, which is essentially an integral - the area under a time-concentration curve. Because I have that understanding I'm able to apply knowledge to the problem at hand. I don't actually have to integrate it, but I could if I needed to and I can solve the problem because of it.

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As an engineer, I don't actually DO the multivariable calculus and differential equations that I learned about in undergrad and grad school. However, a lot of my job requires that I understood and synthesized those concepts and was able to apply them to problems in mechanics, thermodynamics, and other areas of my field. For example, a problem I'm working on at the moment is toxicity of smoke in a fire. The basis of combustion toxicity is dosage, which is essentially an integral - the area under a time-concentration curve. Because I have that understanding I'm able to apply knowledge to the problem at hand. I don't actually have to integrate it, but I could if I needed to and I can solve the problem because of it.

The thing is that a conceptual understanding of the relationships between variables is useful for pretty much everything, including managing a home really well.

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You don't have to be an engineer or mathematician to need a grasp of math. It comes into play in lots of fields. My major was human development and for that I needed a statistics class. It was dreadful, but I made it through. Math is my mortal enemy.

My kids are brilliant at math. It's so, so good that I was not in charge of their math education.

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I know a lot of people hate math (I liked it up until high school calculus at which point I tolerated it in order to pursue my love affair with the sciences), but you need it for so many things. For one, you need it for a fair number of jobs (I'm always helping one of my co-workers calculate people's change when she hits the wrong button on the cash because she hasn't practised basic adding and subtraction in years). Things like basic graph plotting are necessary for most people to understand. And everyone needs to know how to use a basic calculator. I don't think it's fair to force students who don't plan on going into science, engineering or business to learn more advanced math than that, though.

I agree. Everyone needs to know how to do basic math, but the levels of math beyond what will be used in everyday life shouldn't be forced on those who aren't going to go into a career field requiring the understanding of advanced math. All that is likely to do is burn someone out on learning altogether. A better use of that time would be to encourage taking other interests to an advanced level. Those who have to have it forced on them aren't always going to be like Florence and use it to appreciate the world. I'll bet for every one of her there are 10 others who pushed against it because they hated it and now won't seek out new information on their own because learning is associated with negative feelings.

(Disclaimer: I was that math and science geek who was always several grade levels ahead of my peers because I was dorky enough to pull our my parents' college books to do math for fun, and who read through every science book, especially anatomy and physiology, that I could get my hands on.)

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The proportions between these numbers create geometric shapes and relationships that NECESSARILY exist EVERYWHERE in all of the galaxies. The truth of this has been unfailingly shown as far as the Hubble telescope has looked and every electron microscope has probed. It does not matter how small we go or how large, this geometry has held true.

Look at the spiral of a pine cone. Notice that the spiral is perfect both clockwise and counterclockwise in every single specimen. It has exactly the same formula as a nautilus shell and as a hurricane as viewed from a satellite. The same exact formula. Exactly. The number of petals on different flowers may differ, however, they are always a Fibonacci number. The proportions of the parts of living things are always a proportion of Fibonacci numbers, also known as phi, or 1.168. This is true of the proportion between each tiny finger bone of your hand, the features of the human, and every other creature's face, all of our body parts to one another, the orbits of planets, the shape of the galaxies.

Why learn Mathematics? Mathemetics is the essence of life.

What a nice post, FlorenceHamilton. It's because of the things you mentioned above, I believe there might be a higher intelligence.

Not "God" necessarily, but something. Although I have no argument with anyone who disagrees. It's just something that speaks to some part of me.

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What do you consider "advanced"? I require algebra concepts at least weekly in my everyday life.

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Lets think about this folks. Even dope dealers need to know math. Guys with HS degrees toting sniper rifles in Afghanistan need to know math. Crack and Meth heads that steal scrap metal need to know math.

Lets make it fun to learn for every one!!

Pot Dealer math problem: How many grams in a quarter ounce of weed? If you pay $5000 for a kilo of pot, how much will an ounce of pot be sold for in order for you to make a $50% profit?

Sniper: The wind is blowing from the WNW at 5mph, what is your standard compensation for the drift if your target is 450 yards away?

Crack/Meth Head: Copper is being purchased as scrap for $5 per pound, each inch of wire holds 1/32nd of an ounce. How many miles of wire must you strip to earn $20?

Mathz iz pfun.

riffles

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What a nice post, FlorenceHamilton. It's because of the things you mentioned above, I believe there might be a higher intelligence.

Not "God" necessarily, but something. Although I have no argument with anyone who disagrees. It's just something that speaks to some part of me.

;) So you know where this train is going.

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;) So you know where this train is going.

I just watched Pi last night. :shock: The spirals really are everywhere!

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I'm a math nerd. I didn't need it for my field (librarianship), so I never went past calculus, and I often regret letting those skills atrophy. But one of my good friends in high school had learning disabilities and really struggled with math -- she had trouble with abstract concepts, so never got past algebra I and geometry and even those were Cs. So, for me, I tend to consider those "basic math" and something that we should expect of most high school graduates. However, I think any child who is capable should be encouraged and even required to go further. So many kids, especially girls, lose out on career options because when faced with math requirements go "Oh, never mind." Remember Talking Barbie and "Math is tough"? In high school, at least, kids should be encourage to go as far as possible in every subject.

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