Why do we have to learn this

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by TwinsStSt, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. TwinsStSt

    TwinsStSt Rookie

    Jul 29, 2005
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    Apr 24, 2007

    I teach math at an alternative school (students have been kicked out of the public school). I am at my wits end when I teach math- Currently we are working on functions - I did a whole intro on input and output - now we are working on linear functions and graphing them - no matter what the topic is, they want to know why they have to learn this , they will never use it - who was the stupid person who came up with the idea -(I personally think it's fascinating). I've told them many professionals use it. The response is they don't want to go into that profession. I have said it teaches logic - or it makes them smarter - if they don't use your brain cells it will turn to gel. The final reason is because there will be a test.
    Does anyone have an idea what I can say - actually give me real professions - it's frustrating day after day. As sad as it is to say, if I could relate this to drugs I would have everyones attention. Thanks for your input.
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Apr 12, 2006
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    Apr 24, 2007

    Whenever possible, I give a realistic answer.

    When I did conics in Precalc, I talked about how headlights and contact lenses are shaped like parabolas, and how the Whispering Gallery in the Capitol building was shaped like an ellipse, so apparently it's used in acoustics.

    You can extrapolate a bit to linear programming. It uses linear equations to help maximize income, for example, or to minimize costs. When these kids grow up to own factories (yes, I said "own"-- you've got to make it sound positive!), these will be concerns.

    Find a decent precalc book. Ours (published by Heath) has a list of practical applications at the back. Or try googling "practical applications of functions" if you're drawing a total blank.
  4. Nora823

    Nora823 Rookie

    Sep 25, 2004
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    Apr 24, 2007

    You know, it's funny....I get this question ALL the time. One time really sticks out in my mind when one of my kids asked, "Why do we have to learn this? It's not like when I go to the grocery store they are going to tell me the price of bananas is the square root of 77."

    (I didn't have the heart to tell him that if he's paying the square root of 77 for bananas, he's getting ripped off, either that or he's buying a lot of bananas!.....plus, he probably wouldn't have gotten my little joke anyway :) )

    Anyway, I just replied with, "you know what? this is so you're not WORKING at that grocery store"....he got my point.

    Anyway, I found this little article online....read it....it has a list of professions....maybe you can get through to them....maybe read it with them.....math isn't about just working with numbers, it's about problem solving....and that will be used for the rest of their lives.


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