Salt Lake City

“…but I still don’t see why I need to know algebra II of Pre-Calc. to teach kindergardners. [sic]”


1 – Teachers (not necessarily good ones, but certified ones…) are a dime a dozen.  There’s a decent chance that if you focus so narrowly on kindergarten you’ll miss a lot of opportunities that you’d like/be qualified for.

2 – OK – so the chances of you teaching logarithms to a 5-year-old aren’t the best, but 10 years later when that teenager despises math because all through elementary school his teachers were only able to offer him “because that’s the way it is” as an answer to his then-fertile-mind’s “why?” I will have to convince him that his dislike and fear of math is not because it’s not interesting.  It’s much much more than a tool to use to balance your checkbook, to figure out tips at a restaurant, and you certainly don’t have to by employed by NASA to enjoy math.  But sorry, kid, your elementary school teacher was brought up to believe that, and she pushed her fears right onto her students in countless, if not intentional, ways.  So, rather than 180 days of learning awesome stuff about a subject that is a beautiful subject in its own right, right up there with music and art, I spend about 10 of those days trying to convince you that it’s actually practical, and 10 of those days convincing you that it doesn’t need to be practical.  And if you’d’ve paid attention to me AT ALL during the times I answer your weak stalling “When will I use this?” you’d know that I contradicted myself and we could EVEN get into a discussion about paradoxes and logic.  But no.  You’re right.  Unless you’re an engineer, astronaut, architect, carpenter, or somehow in the financial world, you’re never ever going to have to use math…it’s completely useless.

3 – I bet figuring out grades, whatever kindergarten grades consist of (I honestly don’t remember) will be a lot easier if you have a sort of math sense.

4 – I bet 29 years into your working career when you’ve had just about enough of the kids and want to retire but aren’t really sure if you can or not…the decision will be a lot easier if you have number sense.

5 – I bet if you stopped worrying about when you’re ever going to “use” math in your everyday life and try to appreciate it for itself, you’d find it fascinating.  True story — I’ve had to solve far, FAR more math problems in my every day life than I have had to answer “What’s the capitol of Utah?”

Now I’m not looking to start an argument with anyone here…that’s not my goal at all.  But if school came down to matching a career directly with the knowledge learned, then there would be like 3 people in science, 1 person in math, 1 person in history, 1 person in language, 1 person in music, probably 1/10th of a person in gym, and about 4587.9 in a giant soundproof room complaining that school is useless and they won’t ever use what they’re learning.

“I advise my students to listen carefully the moment they decide to take no more mathematics courses. They might be able to hear the sound of closing doors.”



About Mr. T

Well, I'm interested in math. Teaching it, learning it, describing it, living it. Creating it. Most importantly (to me) is helping others appreciate it as much as I do.
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