Why Do I Need To Learn Math?

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.

How to Develop Positive Habits that Last a Lifetime

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (1926)

Our day to day lives are shaped by habits: either positive or negative. The results that we see today, are the outcome of the habits we had yesterday.

Study, work, extracurricular activities and personal relationships strongly influence our lives, behaviours and perceptions. For high school students, making the transition into young adults and taking responsibility for their own behaviours, is the first step to academic success.

Why, you ask? As a student, your job is to learn, and process new information. Being aware of the behaviours you have, gives you the opportunity to develop them into positive habits, and excel at whatever you want to achieve. 

Why has Year 10 become so critical again?

Year 10 Subject Selections

Once the School Certificate was banished and less students chose to leave school, year 10 lost its mark as a critical schooling year. Seeing the rise of heated conversations, meetings and information evenings for students and parents, year 10 has once again been recognised as quite the educational turning point for many students.

The change that may be needed for study habits

Up until year 10, some students relied heavily on their natural ability to achieve academic success. Yet upon arriving on this year, it’s these same students that begin to feel pressure. They start to realise that those high marks no longer come as easily as they had before. Instead, they find their top ranks superseded by students that have long-persisted and worked hard over time; now catching up or even overtaking them. Will you adapt or will you maintain your junior year study? With over 25 years experience of watching year 10 students grow, I can tell you the type of student you are in year 10 sets the pattern that will you follow all the way through to the HSC.

Senior Subject selections

One of the most important decisions a year 10 student needs to make is selecting the subjects they will sit for their Preliminary and HSC years. More often than I’d like to acknowledge, I’ve seen students that have performed well in their junior years at high school, only to lose interest and pick easier subjects in their senior years, which ends up restricting their ATAR.

Tips for Year 10 Subject Selection

Consider a minimum of 2U Advanced English and 2U Advanced Mathematics

I strongly recommend that anyone wishing to attend university consider these subjects. As these are higher-level subjects, Year 10 students will be required to demonstrate their competency in these subjects to their school that year. By doing so, you are not pressured into selecting easier levels of English and Mathematics, which can restrict your subject offerings.

Choose the subjects you’re good at

The remainder of your subjects should be chosen according to your individual interests and abilities. It does not matter whether they ‘scale’ highly or not. If it is one of your stronger subjects, choose it. You will perform well and thus, rank well.

Try those harder subjects in Year 11

It’s important to remember that you can always try a harder-level subject and then drop down to an easier one later. Generally speaking, schools will not allow you to start on a lower-level subject and then move up to a higher-level subject.

Take your time and choose wisely

Take the time to draft it and plan alternatives and options. What happens if your favoured subject is not offered at your school? Don’t hand in your selection forms without sharing your ideas with another peer, a parent or your tutor. What you choose now affects the last two years of your high school education: your HSC years.

Until next time, Rob.

Feel free to speak to us if you want us to look over your subject choices!