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"What do we learn this for?"

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by CHuynh, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Dear wonderful teachers
    Quite often when teaching Algebra, Indices, Surds etc ... some students ask "what do we learn this for?", "how do we use this outside?" etc...
    I have my own answers, I am very interested in what you have that will help to "settle the dust" so we can carry on with the learning and teaching. I will post the few answers that I have later.
    Any suggestions will be appreciated! Thanks!
  2. maths_mikey

    maths_mikey New commenter

    I once told a student that if the wanted to work in McDonald's flipping burgers then they would never need it. But we were going to do it anyway because some other students in the class aspired to better things. They threatened to report me lol but never asked again!
  3. maths_mikey

    maths_mikey New commenter

    More sensibly I would refer to the ability to problem solve and work with abstract ideas. The ability to work logically and methodically etc. I would also point out that hardly anything you learn at school other than basic reading writing and arithmetic is directly relevant to "real life" but you will learn it anyway. I mean how often are you going to need to draw a picture or know the periodic table? No one knows exactly what skills they may or may not need so learn as much as you can.
  4. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Hello Mikey
    Love both your "burger flipping" and the more serious responses. I absolutely agree with you that they don't know what skills they will need in this rapidly changing world, so they should learn as much as they can, while they can. Thank you so much for your input, it's brilliant!
  5. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Question: "What do we learn this for?"

    Short Answer: Because the people who design the curriculum think you need to.

    Longer Answer: You don't have to agree with them. But showing you have learned it might get you a better grade. A better grade might in turn lead to a better job. A better job means more money. More money allows you to do more of the things you want to do in life.
  6. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Love your short answer, I believe that's what many students think too. The long answer should make the kids think ahead which is awesome! Thank you very much for your input!
  7. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    People with a passion more often than not try to invoke the same feelings for their subject/hobby/lifestyle in others. They may become mentors and can have a substantial following. David Attenborough, Brian Cox , Adam Hart-Davis, Heath Robinson, Leonardo Da Vinci and Jack Vettriano are some of my favourites. Algebra was of little interest to me until I began reading New Scientist and realised I could use it to solve some of their puzzles. You never know what will spark a life long love of ornithology, quadratic equations, paint technology or the secret life of frogs ( current interest) but some seeds sown at school will bear abundant fruit. I never saw the point of sport but I seem to be in the minority for that one.
    bonxie likes this.
  8. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Drear Neddyfonk
    Your response is the voice of many who have finished school, this is a very good one to talk to my students about.
    Thank you so much for your brilliant input!
  9. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Thank you everyone for the fun and constructive inputs! They will help some students to settle the dust in class and get on with the work.
    I would like to share some of my responses too.
    "Just for fun!", "good for your brain muscles",
    A more serious one "the curriculum is preparing people for all walks of life, from managing money for your own business to engineering; and you happen to be one of them".
    If anyone has different responses, please share them here. Much appreciated!
  10. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Slightly more flippantly. ask if they ever watch Pointless, Egg Heads, Mastermind or any other quiz show on TV, then ask them to consider how much learning about sport, science, art, maths, history, geography, media studies, english literature and computer stuff they would need to win !!
  11. bonxie

    bonxie Senior commenter

    No pupil is going to need every single thing that they are taught. Giving pupils a broad education allows them to experience a range of subjects and activities. They can find out what they enjoy and what they would like to do more of. A broad education prepares people with different interests to go into different lines of work and to pursue different hobbies. No one is able to predict exactly which bits of their education are going to come in useful unexpectedly in later life.
  12. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Anything that makes you think and use your brain is good for overall brain activity. Learning a second language in later life has been suggested as helping to prevent alzheimers for example.

    Also, see cognitive reserve https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507991/

    The concept of reserve accounts for individual differences in susceptibility to age-related brain changes or Alzheimer's disease-related pathology. There is evidence that some people can tolerate more of these changes than others and still maintain function. Epidemiologic studies suggest that lifetime exposures including educational and occupational attainment, and leisure activities in late life, can increase this reserve. For example, there is a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in individuals with higher educational or occupational attainment. It is convenient to think of two types of reserve: brain reserve, which refers to actual differences in the brain itself that may increase tolerance of pathology, and cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve refers to individual differences in how tasks are performed that may allow some people to be more resilient than others. The concept of cognitive reserve holds out the promise of interventions that could slow cognitive aging or reduce the risk of dementia.

    Learning maths really does make you cleverer.
  13. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Thank you! This reassures the students to think for themselves and think outside of the 4 walls in a classroom. Knowledge from different directions and depths will be useful sometime.
  14. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    This is a great way of putting it, thank you! It is to broaden their ares of knowledge and skill so they can be more prepared for what might be coming their way. Which is life!
  15. CHuynh

    CHuynh New commenter

    Interesting! I never thought of this in the medical point of view. I just learnt something! Thank you!

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