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Convincing Your Child that Math Is Real
“Why should I study math? Will I ever use stuff like algebra and geometry in
the real world?”
If you’re looking for answers to questions like these from your child, here are some key points gleaned
from math educators:
The first and possibly most important answer for your child is that math is the real world. Mathematics
uses a universal language, the only one shared by everyone regardless of culture. Even music is written
very differently, for example, in parts of the Far East than it is in the West.
Math is universal because humans didn’t invent the fundamental concepts of math—those concepts
were discovered through observation and measurement. No one created the fact of pi – which is the
mathematical relationship between the circumference and the diameter of a perfect circle – it is a
relationship that exists in the nature of the shape. People discovered that relationship and gave it a name,
after a Greek letter, and are still measuring it (there is no end in sight to the decimal places of pi).
This process of observing, measuring, and studying the mathematical nature of things has enabled humans
to build cars, to design skyscrapers, to explore space, and to create the latest video game.
We use simple math in our everyday lives. When we compare the prices of food items packaged in different
sizes, we are using algebra. If your child wanted to redecorate his room, he’ll need geometry to figure
out how to rearrange his furniture and to calculate the square footage of wall space for painting. When
your child wants the latest gadget, she’ll need to calculate how many allowances she has to save before
she can buy it.
Math Provides Access to Every Career
Beyond everyday living, math is necessary for every job. Math is a gateway to other subjects and fields
in which your child may have or eventually develop an interest. Along with the obvious fields that require
math, such as all the sciences, engineering, architecture, and accounting, it would be hard to identify
an occupation that doesn’t require at least strong basic math skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections for 2002 to 2012:
Nine of the 10 fastest growing occupations are health or computer (information technology) occupations.
The top two industries expected to have the fastest wage and salary employment growth are (1) software
publishers and (2) management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
What do these projections mean for your child? It means that more and more of the better-paying jobs in
the future will require higher math skills. If your child talks about pursuing a high-paying occupation,
let him or her know that math is likely to be a part of that work. Remind your child that even creative
occupations require math skills, and many of the most creative occupations require advanced math skills:
Designers of toys, skateboards, bicycles, and race cars all use higher math skills, as do specialists in
computer graphics and animation, film and audio production, and even political work such as opinion polling.
So, when you're asked, "When will I use this in real life?" you might want to respond that, in
fact, there will probably not be a day that goes by when your child is grown up when he or she doesn't use
you’ve helped your child to realize that math is important, it’s time to put those math concepts
to work. Also consider that kids who shrug off math might be doing so because they struggle with it. StudyBuddy.com–
a new service from AOL – might be able to help. StudyBuddy.com
is a FREE search engine built just for homework!