Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Awful Question!

As a math teacher I need to get used to the "when are we ever going to use this?" question. I recognize that the students need to be able to know where it is used ... but honestly who uses MOST of what they learned in High School? I don't remember most of history or biology or chemistry ... but I learned how to think while I was in those classes.

We are learning Trig in my Geometry class. Trig is the first "real life" math that you really learn. Before that you are just building your skills to get you there. I love trig. I think it's fun and I know that I am one of the few ...

My 6th period is constantly asking the "when will we use this?" question. I try to explain ... but they end up making fun of it and getting me frustrated. I don't get angry often ... but I HATE that question. The fact is not everyone will use it in their every day life. When I tell them where it is used -- they say "there are machines for that". I don't think that they realize SOMEONE programmed the machines. Someone figured it out. Some people use this and get PAID for it because they LIKE doing it.

SO if someone you know asks the "when are we ever going to use this" question ... this is what I have come up with:

1. Some people use it in their professions -- mathematicians (obviously), engineers, scientists, construction workers, etc.

2. You need it as a high school graduation requirement. You need it just as much as you need art credit, gym credit, english and science. they do this to give students an opportunity to learn and decide what they want to do in their life.

3. (This is my favorite) studies have shown that students who successfully pass Algebra 2 are more likely to get into college and to do well once they get to college.

6 comments:

Jess and Jen said...

I work with satellite imagery every day and we run it through some models that are very trig intensive. Something about earth-sun distance, sun elevations, cosines of this, cosines of that...all trig and algebra. And yes, we do have machines that do the computations, but we have to input the algorithm!

Mandee Lue said...

Yeah, I hate that question too. I can usually answer it, but like you, they don't listen much to me about it either. Kids. Here and now is everything! Well, for adults, that's right - but kids? Sheesh. He he. I love that you love math so much!

Real Mom, Real Life said...

I was one of those students that asked that question. Now I wish I had spent more time studying the math than worrying about the answer to their question. I can't even help my 6th grader with his math... pathetic!

Kirsten said...

One always needs critical thinking and problem solving skills. Especially middle school kids!

Tink said...

Sorry, but I never took trig! Math was NOT my thing. I had a teacher who really belittled me in junior high and I became very insecure about math, so I always shied away from it.

Jess and Jen said...

Katie told me the problem the other day about the girl who needed to know the distance between two beats because her boyfriend was on one and he was being chased by bad guys. She and I both thought that was a GREAT real life application for trig!

--Jen