Mathematics - What Use Is It?

Discussion in 'Education & Learning' started by Tom Locke, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I often wonder what the purpose is of mathematics. I'm not talking about simple numeracy or arithmetic, I'm talking about higher maths. Even the great English mathematician, GH Hardy, accepted that higher maths was without practical application. He said:

    "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world."

    So what is the point? Schools and educationalists in the UK seem to be obsessed with maths. I have two theories, one frivolous and one more serious.

    1. People have to learn mathematics so that some of them can become maths teachers.
    2. Maths is easy to mark and measure. Subjects like English and History are much more difficult to assess and it is much harder to be objective. Put simply, maths makes life easier for bureaucrats.
     
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  2. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I think you need math for being a doctor, pharmacist and those type of professions. I have 2 siblings that majored in it. One sister taught it in community college and my brother got his PhD in something like nuclear physics but started out as a math major. He taught at the university level and has tenure but now he doesn't teach but is the Dean of the math dept at a university in New Haven, Connecticut. He misses teaching though and hates administrative work but he will be retiring anyway soon.
     
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  3. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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  4. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    Math is very important in many if not most things. I used trigonometry a lot and some calculus in my career as a tool and die maker. There would have never been a moon landing or any of our space probes without math.
     
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  5. Lara Moss

    Lara Moss Very Well-Known Member
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    Math is necessary for some jobs but not others so math should be an elective.
    But then again, children sometimes don't realize how good they are at math until exposed to it.

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  6. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I took two years of algebra in high school but I didn't understand the relevancy of it. At test time, I would quickly review the test and write down the formulas that would be applicable to any test questions before I forgot them. I got A's and B's in algebra but I didn't get it. To be perfectly candid, without cheating I'd have never made it through geometry, and I dropped out of trigonometry after three days.

    Many years later, when I became a paramedic, I didn't quite get it during my paramedic training but later, when I began to prepare to teach the drug calculations part of the course, I realized that this was algebra. All of the drug calculation formulas were algebra. When the technical institute that I taught for became a college and my students were required to take general courses as well as the EMS ones, I attended the math course that was required of my students, and the instructor had ways of accomplishing the drug calculation questions that were much easier than those taught in any of the drug calculation or paramedic text books at the time. When all of my paramedic students registered for her course in the same quarter, she would use drug calculations as the sample questions, since it added relevancy to the coursework.

    I had a new pharmacology course roughly every two years, as my students progressed from EMT-Basic to EMT-Intermediate, and on to EMT-Paramedic. Still, perhaps because I simply don't have much of a math aptitude, during that time, I would have forgotten how to do the algebra and would have to review it myself before teaching the course. In practice, we didn't do calculations -- we simply memorized the protocol, which told us how much to give of a specific drug, so it wasn't something that I would use on a regular basis.

    Geometry, I believe, is useful in the construction and design industries.
     
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  8. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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    I always wondered the same thing @Tom Locke, therefore I never learned to speak Algebra.

    It is helpful for shooting pool.
     
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  9. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Certain very practical problems have no possible means of solution without the use of higher Math. That is where the practicality and theory finally meet. An example is the area of a very irregularly curved perimeter, or the volume of a solid object having irregularly curved surface, like an egg.

    Why would we need to find those areas or volumes? Because such problems present themselves whenever a machine of complexity is being designed and built. Picture the constantly curving surfaces of today's jetliner wings and fuselage. Definite answers must be found relating to implementing the shapes in reality from computer images.
     
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  10. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    I used to feel that way about the "higher math" and still do for myself personally but it has come in real handy for two of my daughters who are in the Medical field...and do use it. :)
     
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  11. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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  12. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    I just can't be serious about maths any more :D


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  13. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Apparently, George W Bush once accused mathematics teachers of political bias. He heard that they were teaching Al Gore-ism.
     
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  14. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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  15. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    I think that the best thing about math for me, is that it makes my brain "exercise" Math to me is like a puzzle, so in that respect, having to figure out equations etc., is more of a game for someone like me. Also, construction folks need to know quite a bit of geometry, don't they? What about map-makers, or even computer geeks? What about doctors, trying to figure out what each patient needs, like in the weight of calories according to their weight/height/age. I mean I know some of those are simple math, or lean toward simple math.

    I think if for no, other reason, kids will benefit by having Math, including algebra, geometry, if they only are encouraged to use their brains, figure things out. I love Math, it's probably, well, after history, my fave, teaching. Of course people have to have an interest in it, like anything else.
     
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  16. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    Maybe he knows more about math than you do Chrissy, but you are a smart, and able as he is. I think it has to do with interest. My sis thinks I'm a computer wiz, but the truth is, she has no interest to learn about it. She's just as smart, but no interest;)
     
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  17. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    #17
  18. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Maybe once, long ago but I haven't used my brain much lately. My new theory is that the whole story about why my mother left me with my grandparents isn't even true. Maybe I'm adopted, lol.
     
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  19. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    This took me a bit, I had to exercise my brain to figure it out, but hey, it's a good day when my brain gets some exercise, that's why I come here to SOC!! I like calling it soc because of Southern Oregon College that I am familiar with, and really, this SOC biz is very educational!! LOL!!

    SOCs.jpg
     
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  20. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    Oh for sure Sheldon!! Wow, is that for sure on the space program, yeehaw!! Can you figure out how long it would take me to go back to my own planet of Venus? And, if I come back to Earth to visit, how old would you all be by then? LOL!! denise
     
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  21. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    @Sifu Phil Bonifonte Phil sure makes us use our brains, where is he anyway. Course coming up with smart come-backs, well, yeah, that can be called brain exercise, lol;)

    Maybe you and I are from the same planet @Chrissy Page sort of separated at birth? They might come back for us one day, or not, LOL!!
     
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  22. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Lol, maybe.....:)
     
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  23. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I was a computer programmer for 16 years and I like to think I was pretty good at it. I'm rubbish at maths, though.
     
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  24. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I wasn't bad at math but over the years I've forgotten all the higher math, since I never had to use it.
     
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  25. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    It has been the same for me, I didn't use it so I lost it;) I can still do the ole basic math, but the higher stuff I did was so much fun, just no use for it now.
     
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