When will I ever need this?

Silvia Martinez, Video Editor

     Advanced math classes are often second thought for many high schoolers. They often do complicated strings of problems mechanically, without really understanding the reasoning behind it.

     Students need to know basic mathematics for success. The vast majority of careers students pick will build on the fundamental skills learned in high school math, whether they like it or not. 

     However, can the same be said about advanced math courses? Is learning advanced calculus, trigonometry, or geometry really worth students’ time? Or should high schools start allowing them to spend their time elsewhere, like discovering more about themselves rather than learning how to write proofs in geometry?

     Well, that’s difficult to answer. Truth of the matter is, occupations that use advanced mathematics are projected to grow 27 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This projected growth will add about 56,100 jobs, due to businesses and government agencies continuing to emphasize the use of large-scale data, which math careers analyze and specialize in. 

     The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports the United States places STEM careers that need advanced mathematics at the forefront because of growing global competition, more jobs will demand a higher level of education in math. These jobs have a median annual wage of $90,410 as of 2019, which is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations. 

     This means that if students want to see larger checks in their hands, they might have to consider pursuing some degree of higher-level math in the future. If this is the case, then why are high schoolers so unmotivated to learn the content?

     The answer lies in the way math classes are taught. Teaching methods used in math classes today often stress blind memorization and using calculators. Students aren’t given the chance to analyze and understand where everything comes from, because there’s a stronger focus being put on seeing desirable test scores over letting students think for themselves.

     This is where math falls short. Mathematics has been shown to develop the ability to learn and think logically regardless of what problem is presented. It allows people to think creatively and critically, which is crucial because learning skills are more important than basic knowledge, which can just be looked up. 

     Students will not get these benefits with the way math is currently being taught. Blind memorization isn’t engaging like interactive labs that allow students to figure things out for themselves. 

     Another issue is that while most students are educated in complex math, they aren’t being taught to be agile enough with numbers to apply them to real life scenarios. Students aren’t being taught to use numbers well enough to solve for financial problems they might face later, such as calculating the cost of a new healthcare plan or finding errors in bank statements.

      Yes. Math is important. Yes, we do need it, but its importance is being taken away as students only solve problems for the sake of solving it. Math is currently being taught in a universe of its own, rather than in its engaging, real world applications.