When I was a high school student twenty years ago, I was not a big advocate of math. In fact, I thought that it was boring, and I often did not understand the real world application. However, I ended up with a PhD in engineering!
Now after being in industry for 16 years, I understand how math has helped us to develop as a society, and how it is involved in almost everything that we touch. Some of the items that have been designed using mathematics includes televisions, computers, cell phones, cars, houses, traffic lights, satellites, medicine, and roads. Actually every item that is made through modern manufacturing techniques uses mathematics. We also take for granted that we constantly do simple math in our heads; we calculate the time between activities or meetings, and how much we spend from our recent paycheck or business transaction. The importance and contribution of math in our daily lives is very high. However, we all realize how mathematics is commonly perceived. The most common misconception is that mathematics can only be comprehended by people with a high IQ or that math consists of complicated formulas and equations. In short, mathematics is seldom considered to be for the average person. This misconception is due to several factors:
• There is a lack of knowledge of the subject itself. It involves understanding a structure or pattern of symbols that represents actual item counts.
• Most people have been taught math incorrectly. This in-stills an early “fear” of mathematics that is difficult to reverse in later years.
• In order to reduce fear of math, practical application and “hands-on” activities help students to associate symbols with real-life problems.
Introducing math at a very early age is the best way to solve this issue. The sooner the child becomes familiar with the world of numbers, the easier it will become for him or her to understand the subject and start loving it. Before they begin learning math in a classroom, they can begin to learn the basics through shapes, counting, objects, and activities around them.
Young children can be taught basic mathematics and counting through cooking in the kitchen or grocery shopping. Cups can be counted while creating the child’s favorite recipe or items can be counted as they are added to the cart. The child can be involved with comparing product prices in the grocery store, or adding up the costs so that they know how much the total bill will cost. There are many other ways that a young person can be taught to understand the importance of math in their daily lives. Helping them to explore the world of math around them will make it much more than just a subject that needs to be learned at school for grades. These simple ideas can have significant impact on both your life and a child’s life in the long run.
As we get older, mathematics helps to provide the basic knowledge and understanding about how the universe works. It helps us to improve our knowledge in science and technology, and it opens a world of opportunity and career options. It is not a secret that most of the four-year colleges require three to four years of high school math and science for admission. Recent job market statistics show that close to 90% of the jobs require the job applicant to have mathematical knowledge at a certain level.
It is also interesting to note how recent research shows that people who learn mathematics at a very early stage of their life have comparatively high reasoning powers and problem solving skills. Practicing mathematical concepts provides clarity to the thought process by gifting it with the capability to imagine different scenarios or probabilities for a particular situation and come out with a relevant solutions. In this day and age, we have to make many choices in a short span of time, and math can definitely come to our rescue in helping us to make logical and rational decisions quickly.