"When am I going to use this?"

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Yakk
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Yakk » Thu May 27, 2010 2:53 pm UTC

Here is a skreed by someone else that is tangential to it:
http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html
I've picked up earlier similar descriptions elsewhere.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby hnooch » Thu May 27, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

Cool! thanks.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby rhetorical » Thu May 27, 2010 3:41 pm UTC

IMO, it is better to know something that you may never use than to not learn it and then need it later.

I think that math and science should not be so much memorization of techniques as knowing when and where to use those techniques, and how to find the details on them. For example, let's say you want to solve a quadratic equation (basic, I know, but I couldn't think of anything else at the moment.) You should be taught that when you have a equation of the form ax^2 + bx + c = 0, you should use the quadratic formula. You should be taught how to use the quadratic formula. You should not, however be made to memorize the quadratic formula as part of the lesson. You should memorize it, but because you use it many times, not just for the sake of being able to say, "I know the quadratic formula." It is my belief that you should learn when and how to use a concept, and then use it several times looking it up (not recalling from memory,) and then memorize it that way.

Memorization from use, not just to complete that lesson.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Jorpho » Fri May 28, 2010 12:01 am UTC

Yakk wrote:At high school, there is the start of the possibility of failure, but even there schools are designed to avoid failure. Even the material you are presented is designed that simple rote memorization can generate near perfect results, and questions asked all tend to be "easy".
Except there are still students who fail, and students who drop out. I can't be arsed to look up the exact figures, but they always seem to be big enough to raise concerns. Failing and having to repeat the same material while your peers move on is something of a motivator, is it not?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Fri May 28, 2010 2:28 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
Yakk wrote:At high school, there is the start of the possibility of failure, but even there schools are designed to avoid failure. Even the material you are presented is designed that simple rote memorization can generate near perfect results, and questions asked all tend to be "easy".
Except there are still students who fail, and students who drop out. I can't be arsed to look up the exact figures, but they always seem to be big enough to raise concerns. Failing and having to repeat the same material while your peers move on is something of a motivator, is it not?

I'm not sure about your school, but at my school, it seemed that most of the drop-outs could have finished HS if they wanted (i.e. it wasn't because the classes were too hard) and it was impossible to fail a class unless you simply didn't do any work. College is a bit different. It's a radical change having to study more and do less day-to-day homework to maintain a 3.7 (from an AP-weighted HS 4.1)
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Chopperman » Sat May 29, 2010 11:59 pm UTC

As I see it, maths and sciences are the languages of the universe. As humans, and thus being (as far as we know) the most intelligent beings in the universe, it is our responsibility to understand and pass on at least the fundamental concepts of math and science to as many individuals as possible. I'm saying this, and I'm an English major. When you learn math and science, you learn how the world and the universe work, and you become less dependent on mythology or guesswork to understand the world around you. You'll be able to function more logically, rationally, and for the better of your community if you understand that gravity is not the "weight of your sins" dragging you down to Hell. The same goes for other concepts; even obscure maths and sciences knock down one more thing in the universe that might otherwise be described as "magic."

Action on Global Warming is slow because too many people are ignorant of the science; credit card companies and loan companies can take advantage of people who don't know how to apply the math; people may be killed if there is no one able to calculate the trajectory of asteroids near Earth in the future. Do we really want to be in a situation where if a certain specialist or small group of specialists die or withhold information, we're stuck without possibly essential information that nobody else even knows the basics of? People call Climate Change a "hoax" precisely because they see Climate Science as a subject that is completely unfathomable to everyone but Climate Scientists, and it follows that they see it as a point of exploitation. The fact is that they have no idea if they are being exploited or not, and that is a dangerous situation. In sum, it's important to know, or at least be exposed to, even seemingly useless topics for the sake of defensive knowledge, if not for a higher understanding of the universe in which we may well be the pinnacle of life.

Even if you don't care about the math or science and you never plan to use it, it would be worse for humanity to lose a building block of the universe so essential as a known mathematical concept. Even if you forget it, you've made a wrinkle in your brain that will allow you to understand similar, more applicable concepts. Who knows, one day aliens might snatch every mathematician and math teacher away from us, and a musician who knows Calculus will be able to help reproduce the knowledge that was lost with the specialists.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby blehbleh » Sun May 30, 2010 11:14 am UTC

Some of my co-workers have told me that by studying math, students develop the ability to think more logically. They say that, even if the student never uses those math concepts again, they can apply that logical thinking ability to many other aspects of life. But that explanation doesn't satisfy me. What ARE those real-life situations in which highly logical thinking is required? If those situations do exist, wouldn't it'd be better to actually teach those real-life situations in class, along with the math? Or wouldn't it'd be even better to just eliminate the math altogether and just teach those real-life situations?


I see it as like weight training for a football player. If you want bulky arms to play football, you don't just keep playing football to bulk your arms up, you'll train your arms heavy weights until they're strong enough to be an advantage in football. If you want the sort of logic to be able to take these "real-life situations", it's better to get students to have strong logical skills using the most pure logic available-mathematics.

You probably take for granted the effect that your mathematics ability has on your view on things, but I found that after finishing my last year of high school maths (the only year remotely interesting or challenging) I felt like I was able to understand a lot of things better, with one example being economics. Even learning things that didn't require any sort of mathematical equations of formulae became easier to comprehend with a prior knowledge of calculus. I think having an understanding of calculus helps with a lot of things. Also, economics itself is an incredibly useful subject to have knowledge of, even if you don't study it formally, so even if maths only helps you with economics it's probably valuable.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Do you see how it would be better if you didn't have to be there to get the students to work on the assignment, if they could self-motivate and come to you with problems?
A lot of them ARE self-motivated. I'd say that most of my students would still do work on the assignment even if it wasn't an in-class assignment. I also assign homework, in addition to classwork. Almost all of them do the homework, on their own, outside of class time. When I assign classwork, one of the goals is to make sure that they're not stuck on any concepts. If a student gets stuck in the middle of a problem, that can be very frustrating. Even if the student is self-motivated, they can become temporarily unmotivated if they can't make any progress on a particular problem for a long period of time. That happened to me a lot when I was a student. But if they're doing a problem during classwork, and they get stuck, they can ask for my help, so that they avoid that frustration.

navigatr85 wrote:OK, you're confusing me again. What does it mean to be tired of an argument?
Yakk wrote:You have never gotten tired of an argument? Not wanted to engage in it any more? Found it boring?
There are many topics that I find boring. But I've never had the experience of being interested in an argument, and then bored by that same argument one week later. Earlier, you seemed to be very interested in this argument, in your post when you were saying "That seems politically very smart..." Then your interest seemed to suddenly disappear. But, now that I think about it, maybe you were never interested in the claim that "studying math enables people to make better political decisions." Maybe you were only interested in the claim that "the decision made by the head of that math department was politically smart." I can understand that.

Yakk wrote:By the end of high school, those students who have figured out how to motivate themselves shouldn't be held back by those students who still need hand-holding. You are trying to prepare these people for the rest of the world, and by university and employment you are going to have much better returns if you can grasp abstract long-term rewards and motivate yourself using them.
I agree that it's good for a person to be able to grasp abstract long-term rewards. There are many abstract long-term rewards in the real world. For example, putting money in a savings account. But the whole system of math education seems to be an artificially created long-term reward that doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make sense to say, "If you can solve an absolute value inequality, then you have a better chance of getting this job, even though the actual job will never involve solving absolute value inequalities." Of course, savings accounts and the banking system are also artificially created, but there IS a logic behind them. The bank is saying, "You're doing us a favor of letting us keep your money and lend it out to others, and we'll pay you interest in exchange for doing that favor."

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:27 pm UTC

Yakk, let me also respond to what you said about the costs of individual attention.
Yakk wrote:Do you see how it would be better if you didn't have to be there to get the students to work on the assignment, if they could self-motivate and come to you with problems? They you could teach between 20% and 100% more students (or even more, if you then allow for larger classrooms), and progress at the same rate.
You were saying that I could teach more students, and more topics at a faster rate, without individual attention. My college allows a maximum of 20 students per class, so I have to stay within those bounds. Also, my college has a college-wide syllabus for each course, written by the heads of each department, which contains a list of topics that should be covered in each course. For each course I teach, I always cover at least 95% of the topics from the college-wide syllabus. I've talked to the administrators and other physics and math teachers, and they say that's perfectly fine.

There are costs of NOT giving individual attention. One of the other physics teachers at my college rarely gives individual attention to his students. I've overheard him during his office hours, and he's usually very unwilling to help the students who come in. He has an attitude of "I'm not going to help you, because you should figure it out for yourself." Whenever this physics teacher teaches a class, about half of his students either drop the class or fail. This is a well-known fact, and he even announces this fact to his students at the beginning of each semester. Other teachers who have taught the class, at the same difficulty level, haven't had such a high rate of dropout and failure. It seems like that kind of stand-off-ish attitude doesn't result in more self-motivated students, it simply results in the students learning a lot less.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:46 am UTC

I remember in high school after nearly failing 9th Grade Algebra, I took two years of Applied Mathematics, which was an alternative requirement in order to graduate. Applied Maths answered the age-old question of "When am I ever going to use this?" with real world examples. Every day the teacher showed us a video that featured a particular company or career, and how they applied certain mathematical functions and equations in daily life. The students would then use a workbook that would touch a bit on what they just viewed, with a few exercises they had to do in relation to what they just saw.

I don't remember much about it, but I remember one video we watched dealt with a radio station, and how they had to fit so many station bumpers, songs, commercials, and "talk time" for the DJ within one hour of programming. We then had to do it ourselves, and there were certain guidelines: You had to have a minimum of so many bumpers, allow up to so much "talk time" for the DJ, and so much time for songs and commercials. It was rather difficult, but it was fun.

I agree that while the higher maths may not be used in day-to-day circumstances, but the basics would apply. In some cases even basic algebra would need to be used, but advanced calculus and trigonometry might not be needed.
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Lioness » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:01 am UTC

As someone who doesn't enjoy maths, at all, I dropped it as soon as I was allowed to. I did three years of advanced maths (year 8, 9, and 10), and then a semester of pure maths in year 11. They started teaching us...I dunno...whatever comes after quadratics. I can't really remember. I decided that being an English teacher wasn't a career where I would ever need to know these things, and so I lost motivation. I took up another English subject.
Really, the only time I can see maths coming in handy as an English teacher is calculating grades. And I'm pretty sure I can do that.

I guess if every maths teacher were great at teaching, had a visible passion for the subject, and actually knew their shit, then I might have stayed. But I was blessed with bad teachers who thought that teaching involved writing something on the board, getting us to copy it down, and then making us do the problems.

Only time I've regretted dropping maths is when they started doing rate of reaction and equilibrium stuff in chemistry. But I've got people who can explain it to me in simple terms. Maths is not, technically, a requirement.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:27 pm UTC

Lioness wrote:I guess if every maths teacher were great at teaching, had a visible passion for the subject, and actually knew their shit, then I might have stayed. But I was blessed with bad teachers who thought that teaching involved writing something on the board, getting us to copy it down, and then making us do the problems.


Which is every single Maths teacher I'd ever had, or just about everyone this fora has had. Most Maths teachers only teach the "How", not the "Why" of doing certain equations, techniques, formulas, etc. Most of them, if not all, don't even cover where these techniques and formulas are applied in "the real world" or what careers or jobs would require you to know how to calculate the area of a triangle, quadratic equations, proportions, or any other lesson learned in Algebra, Calculus, Geometry, or other advanced Maths.

Lioness wrote:Only time I've regretted dropping maths is when they started doing rate of reaction and equilibrium stuff in chemistry. But I've got people who can explain it to me in simple terms. Maths is not, technically, a requirement.


Basic Maths would be a requirement. Intermediate Maths should be a requirement as well (fractions, percentages, decimals, some conversions, etc.) in order to make it on your own. You would need to know basic Maths and some Intermediate Maths to figure out what your grocery bill will be, how much taxes are taken out of your paycheck, how much to budget each paycheck for your bills and rent, among other things.

I think that's the main problem with Maths, right there. For starters, high school and college students aren't taught the fundamentals by "real world" examples. I remember in 4th Grade we touched a little bit on how to write checks and balance checkbooks, to teach us a bit about currency and decimals. I think it was a two-week-long course, not enough time to really drill it into your head, and get you prepared. Second, since high schoolers would be out in the "real world" come graduation, whether they decide to go on to college or not, they don't really learn how to "make it on their own". They're thrown into the proverbial lion's den, and end up having to call on mom and dad to help. Sure, most of them get part-time jobs while in high school, but that's not good enough. It's nowhere near good enough. It's because they're still living with their parents, who may or may not still provide for most of their needs.
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby tastelikecoke » Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:54 am UTC

Math: You're not going to use this.

But like literature, where you need to waste hours of your life reading 6000 pages of ink, but everyone believes you should anyway. They say lit will help you write an essay and overcome stage fright. depending on the teacher this is truthful. Of course somehow reading the Iliad would help you understand the inside jokes about Achilles and Paris, that's as far as it goes from using it too.

Math's setup to be a boring class, contrast to something that is supposed to be logically stimulating.

Some classes have the same patterns, like sciences. But it has an excuse, sciences do have a need for rigor, and it mainly fires up our curiosity, rather than our thinking. Not that the excuse is actually good, though.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Yakk » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:15 pm UTC

Huh? Math is bad, while Science is good?

Short of some really simple biology, trying to learn anything beyond "pop sci" science without knowing the math to do it (basic Calculus at the least) is ridiculously slow, clumsy, and inefficient.

Hell, trying to learn economics without knowing math is stupid, and due to the innumeracy of the general undergrad population, most colleges/universites try to teach microeconomics without calculus, which is like teaching baseball with blindfolds on.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby tastelikecoke » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:49 pm UTC

But for anyone else, they aren't constantly solving a bunch of quadratic and exponential problems to go on with their daily lives. For anyone who liked them though, will probably thread about in calculus.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby achan1058 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:57 pm UTC

tastelikecoke wrote:Math's setup to be a boring class, contrast to something that is supposed to be logically stimulating.
Blame the curriculum, not the math. Math is an art, perhaps even the ultimate art.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

tastelikecoke wrote:But for anyone else, they aren't constantly solving a bunch of quadratic and exponential problems to go on with their daily lives. For anyone who liked them though, will probably thread about in calculus.

Sure -- and as long as the goal is to entertain the students, and the goal isn't to teach the students, then teaching baseball with blindfolds on can be amusing to the students. It is even lots of hard work for the students, so they "feel like" they are earning something.

If actually knowing more than a trivial amount about playing baseball is the goal...
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:20 pm UTC

tastelikecoke wrote:But like literature, where you need to waste hours of your life reading 6000 pages of ink, but everyone believes you should anyway. They say lit will help you write an essay and overcome stage fright. depending on the teacher this is truthful. Of course somehow reading the Iliad would help you understand the inside jokes about Achilles and Paris, that's as far as it goes from using it too.

Math's setup to be a boring class, contrast to something that is supposed to be logically stimulating.

Some classes have the same patterns, like sciences. But it has an excuse, sciences do have a need for rigor, and it mainly fires up our curiosity, rather than our thinking. Not that the excuse is actually good, though.

I'll answer each paragraph with a bullet
  • I agree here, although a lot of the problem lies with students missing the point of the work or having them read them before they are mature enough to care
  • Not at my school
  • Science is fun!
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:59 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Short of some really simple biology, trying to learn anything beyond "pop sci" science without knowing the math to do it (basic Calculus at the least) is ridiculously slow, clumsy, and inefficient.
There are physics courses at most high schools and colleges which don't use any calculus. The math pre-requisite for them is algebra and trigonometry. They do usually progress slower than calculus-based physics courses, but the students are still learning the physics concepts.

Also, I think it would be best to teach math within a physics class. For example, in a physics class, with no calculus prerequisite, the teacher could introduce the concept of a derivative, and then, soon afterwards, teach the usage of derivatives for velocity and acceleration. Or something similar could be done within an economics class, or a chemistry class. The way it is now, students spend a semester in math class, getting bored with the abstractness of it, and don't see the interesting uses of math until the next semester, when they take a physics class.

Yakk, can you please respond to what I wrote in my previous posts? :) About self-motivation, and the costs of not giving individual attention? Are you "tired" of those arguments too?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby tastelikecoke » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:54 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
tastelikecoke wrote:But like literature, where you need to waste hours of your life reading 6000 pages of ink, but everyone believes you should anyway. They say lit will help you write an essay and overcome stage fright. depending on the teacher this is truthful. Of course somehow reading the Iliad would help you understand the inside jokes about Achilles and Paris, that's as far as it goes from using it too.

Math's setup to be a boring class, contrast to something that is supposed to be logically stimulating.

Some classes have the same patterns, like sciences. But it has an excuse, sciences do have a need for rigor, and it mainly fires up our curiosity, rather than our thinking. Not that the excuse is actually good, though.

I'll answer each paragraph with a bullet
  • I agree here, although a lot of the problem lies with students missing the point of the work or having them read them before they are mature enough to care
  • Not at my school
  • Science is fun!

2. It depends on the teacher, well I'm basically talking about stupid curriculums.
3. Science is really fun indeed, although I got depressed at the research department telling my proposal sucks and should only be used when desperate.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Naillik » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:32 am UTC

Dason wrote:It's quite possible that they'll never use it. You can ask whether that matters though.


That read along with a few other posts here have successfully instilled a profound curiosity about math in me.


Thanks a ton!

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

Let me re-state my position. I think my position has changed a bit since the time I started this thread. I think colleges need to look closely at the syllabi for the math classes that they require for students whose programs are not directly related to math/physics/engineering. They need to remove certain topics from those syllabi. For each topic in each syllabus, colleges should ask themselves:
• Does this math topic have any real-life applications, outside of the academic world?
• Is a student in this program likely to encounter a situation that uses any of those applications, after they are done with school?
If the answer to either of those questions is "no", then that topic needs to be removed from the course. And when examining the syllabi, people need to avoid all the hand-waving and shallow justifications like, "you COULD use quadratic equations as a personal trainer, to do a statistical analysis of your clients' progress." By these criteria, some of the things that need to be removed are: solving quadratic equations, long division of polynomials, and others.

On the other hand, by these criteria, I think it would be fine to leave certain topics in those courses, like most pre-algebra topics, statistics, the math that is necessary for mortgages/loans, and others. I can see that I was wrong earlier, when I was suggesting that those higher-level math requirements should be completely eliminated.

By the way, for statistics, do you really need to know how to SOLVE a quadratic equation? When you fit some data points to a quadratic curve, you're not solving the equation, you're not factoring the trinomial, or using the quadratic formula. To fit data to a quadratic curve, don't you just need to know the shape of the graph of a quadratic equation, and how the equation corresponds to the graph?

Teachers should also think about the problems that they assign that are pure math problems (not word problems). For these, they should ask themselves, "How closely is this problem related to real-life applications?" Even if the math topic has a real-life use, teachers often assign problems which are purely mathematical, and involve that topic, but are completely disconnected from real-life applications. For example, here's a typical fraction problem from a pre-algebra textbook:
Image
Now, multiplying fractions is useful in the real world. But that problem is completely unrealistic. Outside of the academic world, where would a person encounter a problem like that? Does anyone say "this plot of land is 33/25 of a mile wide"? Does anyone buy 10/117 of a yard of fabric?

Yakk and sikyon haven't responded in this thread in a long time, but they have both been active in other threads on these forums recently. My interpretation of this is that they have read the posts in this thread, and they are actually starting to see my point of view, but they just don't want to say it. Yakk stopped responding to the discussion about motivation. He's probably going to claim that he's "tired" of that argument too.

I think part of the problem is that the math education system is full of people like that, people who don't want to admit that they're wrong. People who don't want to admit that there are flaws in the system. People who become unresponsive in this type of discussion, and simply refuse to continue this type of discussion to its logical conclusions.

Let me return to the discussion about snake oil. Maybe Yakk isn't "tired" of that line of discussion yet. I originally didn't respond to that stuff, but the reason I didn't respond wasn't because I was "tired" of the argument. It was simply because I didn't want my posts in this thread to be too long.

Yakk wrote:...the specs of a flat screen TV. Understanding them as more than "this number big good, this number small good" helps.
A person can understand TV specs, at a higher level than that, without knowing how to solve a quadratic equation. Without knowing math beyond pre-algebra, a person can still understand that a TV screen is made up of a grid of pixels; they can understand that 1080p means a vertical resolution of 1080 pixels, and 720p means a vertical resolution of 720 pixels. Where is the higher-level math in that?

Yakk wrote:I buy cell phones as a sheep -- I am not, really, making a decision about how it works. I'm just doing what other people do, and presume that the results of doing so will be similar to the other sheep's results.
I was confused by this. Are you saying there's nothing wrong with buying cell phones as a "sheep"?

navigatr85 wrote:Can you give me a specific example of a situation in which it would be necessary for a customer to use science, along with higher-level math, to determine if a product is snake oil? ...
Yakk wrote:Someone comes to your door offering you a fixed price on electricity.
Wouldn't this require a knowledge of the electricity market, and knowledge of whether electricity prices are likely to go up or down in the near future? I've studied a lot of math, but if someone knocked on my door tomorrow and offered me a fixed price on electricity, I wouldn't know whether to take it or not, because I don't know anything about electricity prices. If I took the time to learn about the electricity market, would I have to solve quadratic equations to help me understand it? Would I need to find the domain of a piecewise function? I'm guessing the electricity market is similar to the stock market in its unpredictability. I know there are elaborate computer algorithms that are used by financial companies to try to predict the stock market, and some of those probably use quadratic equations. And those algorithms could probably also be used to model the electricity market. But the typical consumer wouldn't do a detailed analysis like that.

Also, most of the examples you gave are financial examples. Wouldn't it would be much better to require finance classes for everyone, instead of requiring higher math classes? Finance uses math, but it wouldn't be that bad to teach the math concepts alongside the finance concepts that use them.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:03 am UTC

navigatr85 wrote:By the way, for statistics, do you really need to know how to SOLVE a quadratic equation? When you fit some data points to a quadratic curve, you're not solving the equation, you're not factoring the trinomial, or using the quadratic formula. To fit data to a quadratic curve, don't you just need to know the shape of the graph of a quadratic equation, and how the equation corresponds to the graph?
Curve fitting involves differential calculus, at the very least. And if you're going to do much calculus, you'd better have a good strong understanding of "solving quadratic equations, long division of polynomials, and others".

Yakk and sikyon haven't responded in this thread in a long time, but they have both been active in other threads on these forums recently. My interpretation of this is that they have read the posts in this thread, and they are actually starting to see my point of view, but they just don't want to say it. Yakk stopped responding to the discussion about motivation. He's probably going to claim that he's "tired" of that argument too.

I think part of the problem is that the math education system is full of people like that, people who don't want to admit that they're wrong. People who don't want to admit that there are flaws in the system. People who become unresponsive in this type of discussion, and simply refuse to continue this type of discussion to its logical conclusions.

Let me return to the discussion about snake oil. Maybe Yakk isn't "tired" of that line of discussion yet. I originally didn't respond to that stuff, but the reason I didn't respond wasn't because I was "tired" of the argument. It was simply because I didn't want my posts in this thread to be too long.
Dude, I got seriously tired just reading your post. Not because it was long, but just because it brought me to contemplate the effort involved in trying to show you a different point of view. Why are you posting here again?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby the mishanator » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:39 am UTC

the simple fact is that any rewarding career involves math :p
that said, i am currently doublemajoring in math and computer science. i know a girl who is majoring in peace studies... it makes me sad, spending 40,000 a year on basically a bullshit major. anyway, sure u wont ever be walking down the street and run into a plane but there is no way to explain the world but through math.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:43 pm UTC

OK, why don't we take a step back from the original discussion for a bit.

First of all, Yakk just sent me a private message saying that he put me on his ignore list:
Yakk wrote:I find discussing things on the internet with between people throwing insults at each other to be less than productive. I read your last post, and it contained yet more insults directed at me.

Feel free to continue insulting me to other posters, but be aware that I'm not likely to read any posts you make -- you are on my ignore list, because I find your insults aggravating.

My apologies for starting this by being dismissive of your arguments. Regardless, I am unlikely to see any replies to this PM.

Bye.

I would like to apologize to Yakk. (Although it will be difficult to apologize to him now that I'm on his ignore list.) Throughout this thread, I never had any intention of slamming Yakk with insults, or hurting his feelings, or anything like that. I've just been trying to point out flaws in his reasoning. In my previous post, I was trying to point out that it wasn't productive for him to just stop responding to me. I was hoping that he would change his behavior and start responding. I actually thought I was being somewhat polite. There was another poster in this thread who called Yakk an "asshole", but I don't think I've ever used any words as hurtful as that. But I guess Yakk still felt insulted, even though I had no intention of insulting him. So for that, I apologize.

Jorpho wrote:Dude, I got seriously tired just reading your post. Not because it was long, but just because it brought me to contemplate the effort involved in trying to show you a different point of view. Why are you posting here again?
I'm posting because I want to continue the discussion. I want you to show me a different point of view. And I want you to understand my point of view too. Granted, it might take a lot of mental effort to show me that point of view. But just because something takes a lot of mental effort, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Studying math takes a lot of mental effort. If you're supporting a system in which math teachers force students to exert a lot of mental effort, you should be willing to exert plenty of mental effort of your own.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Mike_Bson » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:03 pm UTC

navigatr85 wrote:-snip-


My interpretation of this is that they have read the posts in this thread, and they are actually starting to see my point of view, but they just don't want to say it. Yakk stopped responding to the discussion about motivation. He's probably going to claim that he's "tired" of that argument too.

I think part of the problem is that the math education system is full of people like that, people who don't want to admit that they're wrong. People who don't want to admit that there are flaws in the system. People who become unresponsive in this type of discussion, and simply refuse to continue this type of discussion to its logical conclusions.


You really think that that didn't seem very insulting? You say that you did not intend to insult, but I have no idea what you could have intended by saying that. Even I felt insulted and stereotyped by that. Could you not have just said,''That has flaws, which are ___ and ___, and this is why.'' Saying things like ''people like you,'' and pretty much implying he, and everyone in the education system, is stubborn and pretentious. Not insulting at all?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

navigatr85 wrote:I want you to show me a different point of view.
I find myself strongly doubting that.
If you're supporting a system in which math teachers force students to exert a lot of mental effort, you should be willing to exert plenty of mental effort of your own.
I can't even pretend that exerting mental effort in this instance would serve any purpose.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:11 pm UTC

Mike_Bson wrote:You really think that that didn't seem very insulting? You say that you did not intend to insult, but I have no idea what you could have intended by saying that. Even I felt insulted and stereotyped by that. Could you not have just said,''That has flaws, which are ___ and ___, and this is why.'' Saying things like ''people like you,'' and pretty much implying he, and everyone in the education system, is stubborn and pretentious. Not insulting at all?
OK, I'm sorry. You're right, it was very insulting. I suppose my intent WAS to insult, a little bit, as a sort of "wake-up call", to try to get Yakk and other people to continue responding. Looking back, I could have said the same thing in a much more polite way. I was frustrated. People really did stop responding in this thread. Also, I have had discussions like this with my co-workers, and most of them also stopped responding. I apologize. In the future, I will make more of an effort to be polite in my posts. Starting now.

I would really appreciate it if someone would make a response to what I posted about self-motivation. Please tell me whether or not you agree that it's possible for a self-motivated student to become unmotivated.

navigatr85 wrote:I want you to show me a different point of view.
Jorpho wrote:I find myself strongly doubting that.
navigatr85 wrote:If you're supporting a system in which math teachers force students to exert a lot of mental effort, you should be willing to exert plenty of mental effort of your own.
Jorpho wrote:I can't even pretend that exerting mental effort in this instance would serve any purpose.
I think it's always good to approach discussions like these with an open mind. Even though I currently believe that some math topics shouldn't be taught, I am open to the idea that those topics should be taught. I am open to the possibility that, at some point in the future, if someone gives me good enough reasons, and if I put enough thought and mental effort into this, then I will be convinced and change my position.

Jorpho, you believe that these math topics should be taught. But are you open to the idea that they shouldn't be taught? Are you open to the possibility that you haven't seen good enough reasons yet, and that your position could change at some point in the future through discussion and thought?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Jorpho » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:13 pm UTC

navigatr85 wrote:Jorpho, you believe that these math topics should be taught.
I do?

Actually, I tend to believe that trying to come up with some maxim that will universally apply at all times to all people is probably an impossible task, or one at least generally left to those who have spent many more years of their lives than I devoted to pedagogy. So if some lone wolf of questionable credentials started storming the schools and burning all the math textbooks, I'd be rather opposed.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby navigatr85 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

navigatr85 wrote:Jorpho, you believe that these math topics should be taught.
Jorpho wrote:I do?
In your earlier post, you seemed to be in favor of those topics being taught, when you said:
Jorpho wrote:And if you're going to do much calculus, you'd better have a good strong understanding of "solving quadratic equations, long division of polynomials, and others".
But maybe I misunderstood. I guess you're actually saying that you don't have a strong opinion either way. Is that right?

Jorpho wrote:Actually, I tend to believe that trying to come up with some maxim that will universally apply at all times to all people is probably an impossible task, or one at least generally left to those who have spent many more years of their lives than I devoted to pedagogy.
OK, so assuming none of the people posting in this forum have spent many years studying pedagogy, I guess you're saying that there's no way this thread could come up with a valid conclusion. I think we COULD come to a conclusion. I think the experience of being a student, the experience of being a teacher, and logical thinking skills are enough. But anyway, if no one else is still interested in this thread, then I guess we can end the discussion.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Midnight » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:33 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:Blame the curriculum, not the math. Math is an art, perhaps even the ultimate art.

This does not compute at all. I cannot even begin to comprehend how this statement works.
I simply have no use for any math beyond the most basic algebra.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby the mishanator » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:05 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:
achan1058 wrote:Blame the curriculum, not the math. Math is an art, perhaps even the ultimate art.

This does not compute at all. I cannot even begin to comprehend how this statement works.
I simply have no use for any math beyond the most basic algebra.


do you have any use for the "luncheon of the boating party?"

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby achan1058 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:52 am UTC

Midnight wrote:
achan1058 wrote:Blame the curriculum, not the math. Math is an art, perhaps even the ultimate art.

This does not compute at all. I cannot even begin to comprehend how this statement works.
I simply have no use for any math beyond the most basic algebra.
There is no use for art, neither. As for you not understanding why math is an art, it only implies that you have been drilled into memorizing a bunch of computations which has nothing to do with real math. Go to the math forum often and read some of the more interesting stuff there. The discovery and writing of writing elegant theorems and proofs. That is math.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby mister k » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:54 pm UTC

Navigatr, I'll give this a go. The ability to solve a quadratic equation is, in of itself, rather limited, but the ability to manipulate linear algebra, of which solving quadratic equations are a part, is basically essential in every science. I'm a little confused as to what level you are teaching at? In the UK system by degree level we have utterly specialised- we are only compelled to take certain subjects up to the age of 16. Is it true that in the US you are compelled to learn mathematics once your are at degree level? That seems a little confusing, if only because the kind of stuff you're talking about is stuff I had learnt by the time I was 16.

Effectively, can you carefully outline your argument so I can see whether I disagree with it or not. At which point in someones education are you suggesting that they should utterly specialise?
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby tckthomas » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:56 pm UTC

Dason wrote:It's quite possible that they'll never use it. You can ask whether that matters though.


I read through the whole thing. Its very beautiful. Never read a more amusing one. :lol:

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Doyh » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:21 pm UTC

In my opinion, life is short. Therefore, we should spend the now enjoying our lives, instead of tediously learning things which are neither interesting to us nor helpful to our future. Is it more important to be able to calculate the approximate parabolic curve of a ball you hit in a baseball game, or to enjoy life. Remember the one comic about electric skateboards, where they crash into Calvin and Hobbs? This is like that.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:18 am UTC

Yeah... because of course everyone knows ahead of time the entire course their life will take, so they know what knowledge will or won't come in useful, right?
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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Doyh » Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:32 am UTC

You can have a pretty good idea as to whether you'll need to take calculus seriously or not. If you suddenly decide that you don't hate math anymore and want to be a mathematician, you'll need to go back to college anyway.

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby hnooch » Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:53 am UTC

If your child doesn't want to learn how to read and cites the same argument, would you buy it?

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Re: "When am I going to use this?"

Postby Solt » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:23 am UTC

I realize I'm a bit late to the discussion and this has probably already been said, but arguing math should be taught for the sake of learning math is, to me, a silly argument.

What it really comes down to is this: I know a 17 year old kid that is applying for college right now and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She might choose a field with no math in which case all those years of math education have probably been a waste for her. Or she might choose to be an engineer or economist or similar, in which case she will be relying on all that math and building on it soon enough. I know several people who would have dropped math in high school given the chance, who are now studying engineering. I myself got a terrible grade in Algebra I but kept trying and now I'm in grad school for engineering and I study math all day.

We put kids in school to prepare them for the choices they might want to make one day. That's half the purpose of mandatory education right there (the other half being to create informed citizens). It is the key to upward mobility, the middle class, American economic power, and the American dream. It would be negligent of us, as a society, to say "oh, you have dreams? Well you can't accomplish them because we didn't prepare you to, even though we could have. We knew better but we let your immature 14 year old mind make decisions that would affect the course of the rest of your life. Guess you should have known what you would grow up to be interested in a lot earlier!" They day we stop teaching math as a required subject in k-12 education is the day the middle class dies, more so in these times than ever before.
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