Monday, June 16, 2008

The Importance of Mathematics

From the National Curriculum for Mathematics, website:

"Mathematical thinking is important for all members of a modern society as a habit of mind for its use in the workplace, business and finance; and for personal decision-making. Mathematics is fundamental to national prosperity in providing tools for understanding science, engineering, technology and economics. It is essential in public decision-making and for participation in the knowledge economy.

Mathematics equips pupils with uniquely powerful ways to describe, analyse and change the world. It can stimulate moments of pleasure and wonder for all pupils when they solve a problem for the first time, discover a more elegant solution, or notice hidden connections. Pupils who are functional in mathematics and financially capable are able to think independently in applied and abstract ways, and can reason, solve problems and assess risk.

Mathematics is a creative discipline. The language of mathematics is international. The subject transcends cultural boundaries and its importance is universally recognised. Mathematics has developed over time as a means of solving problems and also for its own sake."

So that's why maths is important! Try explaining that to 11-16 year olds.... I have highlighted in red the part about creativity, for that is all that I have been going on about this past week at this school. (By the way I haven't looked at anything else on the site, because I have to eat now and wanted to post this before doing so.)

Today, I tried my creativity "bull" (as named by someone) past a few students. Some gave me "the look" but to one student I ended up using Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire as an example. Well the final task for the Tri-wizard tournament to be precise, and how Harry didn't give up when he came across challenges in the maze. Lame I know, but I was trying to tell this student that the wrong answer shouldn't stop him. Since he was a Harry Potter fan he seemed to like the maze, but more on this in my "journal post" coming up later.

So how would you "summarise" them three long paragraphs to a secondary school student, especially when they cry: "I hate Maths--why do we have to learn this? How is it going to help me?"

Oh, and they don't give a damn about the future but the here and now.


Abg said...

A nice analogy I like is that it's a game of chess. The axioms are rules, moves are theorems and the other player is, well, life or God or what not. Of course, Chess is just a subset of mathematics, but it gives the idea of attempting to "beat" an opponent.

Beans said...

Hi Abg,

I like what you like too. :p It might also appeal to people who play chess so I'll see what my brother makes of it later today.