What can a math exam teach you about life? When will you ever need all those formulas, equations, rates and diagrams again? When will you ever use this again? With the passing of many topics, syllabuses and exams, it’s sometimes hard to see how the content you’re being taught now, is going to help you later.
The truth is, a strong basic math education may serve you better in life than almost any other school subject. And you don’t have to be interested in a STEM-oriented career (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to benefit from its many uses. Math is such a large part of our lives, that we use it many times a day without even realising it.
Math has many uses around your home
Algebra can help you adjust recipes for a larger number of guests. With ratios, you can work out the chlorine-to-water ratio for your pool. You need to understand different dosages when taking medicine, whether in grams or millilitres. Calculating the area of an object has many uses for home renovators, who need to select the amount of paint for the walls or parquetry for the floors, or even check if the quote for the bathroom tiling is correct. Google is good, but knowledge is better.
Being good with money is essential for life
Are you an hourly earner? Confirm your paycheck by multiplying your working hours by your rate of pay. Paying bills involves a bit of math too, making sure you’re not paying more than you need to be. Maybe you’re looking at getting a car loan or a home loan? You’ll need to work out how long it will take to pay off that mortgage. Working within a budget is how people generate wealth. The process of paying off loans, increasing savings and then reinvesting your money again, is a tried and true method to achieving financial security and prosperity. It’s a way to set your life up comfortably, and reap the rewards of more frequent holidays, recreational activities and downtime.
If you want to run a business, whatever it may be, you better be good at math
The expenses you’re paying, and the income you’re earning are not the same. How do you know if your business is doing well? How do you know how much you actually earned? You need to learn about balance sheets. If you’ve got business partners, you need to be able to distribute the funds you earn together, according to the percentage share each of you own in the business. I once had to explain to a couple of business partners how that works. Their arguments were getting quite heated, which was seriously affecting their relationship and business activities.
Math is a universal language
If you want to travel, math is going to allow you to communicate with locals on price, quantity or the time the next tour bus leaves. Travelling abroad also means you need some understanding of the exchange rate of currencies. Although currencies change all the time, the process of calculating the exchange rate remains the same, because of algebra. The combined cost of your groceries doesn’t change, regardless of whether the total is in dollars, Euros or Yen. Algebra gives you the ability to easily convert your Australian dollars into the local currency, and back again. As I jokingly say to my students, “algebra is everywhere…”
Learning math develops your critical thinking skills
Your brain needs practice to tell the difference between a real news source and a clever piece of advertising, or think differently from your group of friends. Math trains your brain to think logically, and deduce and reason effectively for yourself. Some of the world’s greatest philosophers were also mathematicians. If you’re interested, look up Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz or Blaise Pascal just to name a few. I’ll leave you with this thought – they were geniuses, and they studied math.