76

Questions like this, or variants (from students, the notorious "when will I use this in real life") seem to be pretty common, and I'm always a little surprised, because the unstated premise - that high school is supposed to teach students things narrowly tailored to their future career - is so obviously false. It's obviously false because almost no academic ...


57

Why is Mathematics a compulsory subject for high school students, especially those who are clearly studying in Humanities streams? A kid at age 14 is not ready to make irrevocable decisions that will affect them for the rest of their life. That's why we don't let them get married. I have a friend who, at age 30, decided to apply to grad school in sociology, ...


25

The OP may be interested in the controversial 2012 article by Andrew Hacker in the NYTimes: Is Algebra Necessary? Here is one reply, by Peter Flom: A reply to Andrew Hacker. His closing remarks: Is algebra necessary? In the strict sense, no. You can live without it. You can also live without art, music, literature or sports. Would you want to? And here ...


14

Many people think that the clientele of our public school system is the students. Others act as if the clientele were the parents of the students. Those people are wrong. The client is the citizenry of his state and nation, who need the electorate to be educated and informed, in order to secure the benefits of a well-ordered government. The question, "...


10

I'll make some observations from a Western perspective (which may or may resonate with a Chinese student, say). Consider: Mathematics has been at the forefront of all education forever -- since long before the idea of compulsory education itself was conceived. In Classical Athens (~420 BC): More focused fields of study included mathematics, astronomy, ...


10

Underwood Dudley answers the question "What is mathematics education for?" in this article from 2010 (Notices of the American Mathematical Society, vol. 57, no. 5, pp. 608-613) (even though the title of the article is "What Is Mathematics For?"). So that there is no confusion, let me say that by “mathematics” I mean algebra, trigonometry, calculus, linear ...


9

Because many high school students, especially those who are keen on pursuing the humanities, they do not see any point in studying Mathematics for the rest of their schooling life, or how any concept in Mathematics could possibly be applied in their future work. shows they have no clue what mathematics is worth, therefore it needs to be compulsory ...


7

Citizenship The health of a democracy depends on the electorate being thoughtful and informed. And said citizens can only be informed if they understand the information around them (e.g., the news). Very few policies boil down to: "A is morally right and B is morally wrong." Those issues were mostly settled long ago or established in the Constitution. ...


3

To give a German-centric answer which would certianly apply to other countries as well: The German Abitur is the right to study any subject at a university (Allgemeine Hochschulreife). As such the pupils need to be taught everything such that they need in order to be able to succeed. After all, they may want to change the subject after finishing school and ...


3

Math, taught well, teaches modes of thought, not facts. A person who is exposed to a wider variety of modes of thought will be more prepared to critically consider new ideas. It's the same reason we teach history and literature - I can't honestly say that I've had reason to use my middle-school knowledge of Macbeth for anything, but the tools of critical ...


3

Math teaches reasoning using scenarios that are exact enough for there to be concrete right and wrong answers. Many areas of life require reason, but mathematics forces students to actually engage in the discipline of finding the right answer, because there is only one right answer. For example, some people think that we can teach reasoning by doing mock ...


1

The simple answer I would give is that there is a good chance they go into the business world at SOME TIME in the future of their life. Perhaps they will get an MBA at some point to help them move up. And you'd laugh at how deer in the headlights the English major types were with finance math. And how the STEM majors ate it up like Valentines Day heart ...


1

The chain rule is one of the areas where teaching using differentials (instead of derivatives) shines. If you are not aware, instead of teaching the "derivative" as the fundamental operation of calculus, you teach the differential. When you differentiate with the differential, there is no preferred variable with respect to differentiation. So, your rule, ...


1

This is kind of a "how I did it," but I think that it's something worth writing up somewhere, and it's too long for a comment. Here's my approach. When I last taught calculus, I began with a graphed function f(x) which had no simple formula (piecewise linear is sufficient), and we sketched its derivative where it was defined. Then I asked them about what ...


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