Thursday, 10 March 2011

Math This!

Does your kid like math? Mine doesn’t. Have you ever used any of the math you learned in school other than consumer math—addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, percentages, SOME fractions? I haven’t.  Although I was forced to study algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. AND? I remember absolutely ZERO of any of the higher math and have absolutely ZERO use for it.

I’ll also add this: I never really understood any of the higher math courses until I got into college. That’s where I shined in math—even though I could not have cared less about taking the classes. I took them because they were required and because I wanted an excellent GPA and worked hard at getting an A. And I STILL never used any math other than consumer math.

So why the hell do the educators keep cramming math down our throats?

Doesn’t it make more sense to require consumer math all through your elementary, middle school, and high school years with elective classes for those who excel in math and have a natural aptitude for it or are going into a career that calls for higher math?

I was looking over a sample end-of-grade test yesterday and spotted several questions that required knowing the square root of a number. HUH? When the hell do we need to know the square root of anything? And just exactly who came up with that terminology? Square root? Sounds like a diseased tree or something.  Here’s another one for you—write the equation as a scientific notation. Why? And exactly who cares? How about “absolute value”? Well, last time I checked, $5.00 had an “absolute value” of $1.98—and THAT, my friends, is Tess’ Consumer Math. To calculate “absolute value” you take  how much it cost to fill up your car yesterday, factor in nuts in foreign countries going to war and some fat cats who don’t have enough money in their pockets yet, and voilá—you have the actual value of “absolute value”—which changes based on the price at the pumps!

X to the tenth power multiplied by positive 4 divided by the square root of 9 is still BROKE any way you figure it! So why must our kids suffer through all this math they will never use and cannot in any way, shape, form, or fashion buy them a milk shake to go along with their Chicken McNuggets?


C. Zampa said...

Ugh. You lost me at 'Math'...LOL. All I know is: I'm glad I went to school when I did, and not now. I never liked math, and I know I'd like what they're teaching today even less.

ev said...

I was so glad when my school gave us the option of taking business classes, including business math, instead of those other kinds. I hate math and still do.

To get into most master's for business you have to take the GMAT. The quantitative section is mostly Algebra, Calc, Geometry and Trig? Why? They aren't building anything!

On the other hand, amusingly so, I could never pass those math classes, but do build things and have figured out angles and such without the use of the Pythagorean Theorem.

Tess MacKall said...

You and me both, Carol. I'm a whiz at consumer math---but you lose me when you start using X and it's not a freaking number. lol

Tess MacKall said...

Oh God, Ev. My kid came home a few days ago talking about the Pythagorean Theorem. Uhhhh...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz way.

My kid will never use this stuff and I know several people right now who didn't even graduate high school that went on to be building contractors who know more about angles and such than ANY college math graduate for sure.

Faith said...

HAHAHAHAHA!!! I absolutely LOVE your math, Tess!

Cassie Exline said...

Doesn't make any sense to make kids learn that crap.

I'm glad I had the option of business classes, math gives me a headache.

Tess MacKall said...

My kid hates math, Faith. All three hated it. Hell, I hated it. What I don't get is now that my oldest is in college, SHE gets a choice. I thought it would be more of a requirement as to what to take---it was for me when I was in college. But nope. She is getting some very basic math classes that are related TO her career path rather than just this broad sweeping stroke of math.

Anthology Authors said...

You should see the crap math they are teaching my daughter. According to a news anchor, 2.5 meters is equivalent to 5 feet. Hahahahaha I think we need to make sure people have basic math. I too took advanced level math. I rarely use it. If you are going to become an engineer, architect, etc, obviously you need this math. The average person? Not so much. Being able to count change and add should be a must.

Tess MacKall said...

That's what they should do, Cassie. Give them more options in so far as math is concerned. Our school system is doing the science end of grade test for the first time this year. And there is SOOOOO much work coming out of science that I want to scream. Now my kid is taking it all in stride. But he understands the concepts and such and says that's all he needs. But the work? God, busy work is all it is to make the teacher look like she's doing something.

I just think they are teaching to that damn test too much.

Fiona McGier said...

While I do agree that they teach to the tests WAY too much, this is what I have told my own kids, and any others who asked, "Why do I have to learn this crap that I'll never use?"
The big secret is, you're right! You'll never use most of what you learn! But research on the brain shows that it is the ACTION OF LEARNING IT that is important. You are creating synapses...pathways in your brain, from one dendroid to another, and storage space to hold all that you learn. Those pathways and storage areas can only be created by the act of learning complicated concepts. Once you choose a career or a major, you will go to sleep one night and your brain will hit "purge", like a giant computer, and it will all drain out of your ear. But the pathways and storage spaces will stay, and those you will use for the rest of your life.
By-the-by, I always tested higher in math than anything else, but I found it too easy. There's always a right answer, and once you know how to get it, where's the challenge? I preferred English, where if you can make a convincing argument, you can make someone believe the sky is green and the grass is blue. Little did I know there would be so little money in that sort of skill! (sigh)

Tess MacKall said...

Little did I know there would be so little money in that sort of skill! (sigh)

LOL Fiona! Ain't that the truth, honey???? LOL

Hey, I told my kid that same thing about critical thinking and expanding the mind and opening up the brain, etc etc. Didn't wash. LOL

According to him there is plenty out there that will expand his mind without going through MATH! I'm afraid I have to agree.

And like us???? The kid is an absolute whiz at English--actually all other subjects. He finds math to be incredibly boring and zones out is the problem. When he DOES apply himself--he blows it out of the water. But he just can't stand it.

Right now he knows he's got to kick it into high gear due to end of grade testing, though. So he'll be much better at it until the end of the school year, of course.

But I would so love to see more targeting on getting the consumer type math right and then maybe touching on some of these other things that just don't apply to most people. OR at least wait until high school and college to tackle them--when kids are a bit more inclined to gravitate one way or another in their career paths.