Putting Math@Work to Work

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Originally posted April 14, 2015 on Scholastic EduBlog

How often have you heard students complain in math class, “When am I ever going to use this?” The honest answer, in most cases beyond arithmetic, is “probably never.” I mean, when is the last time you had to figure the volume of a cylinder or solve a quadratic equation outside of school?

Of course if we held every item taught in school, even across disciplines, up to the standard of daily practical value, most bits of content would fail the test. How often do you “use”The Odyssey or the Panic of 1893 or the formula for measuring effort force? Daily utility of individual learning objectives isn’t the point.

School isn’t about learning bits of knowledge; it’s about learning bodies of knowledge. It’s about developing ways of thinking, seeing, understanding, and describing the world. And the Math@Work series helps students see how mathematical knowledge and thinking unleashes creativity, making the world and multiple careers genuine possibilities. Math involves much more than calculation and following procedures. Math helps people turn creative visions into something real.

Previous Math@Work webisodes invited students into the worlds of fashion and cooking to see how mathematical ideas around measuring, comparing and applying tools supported designers and chefs in those engaging fields of work. This new webisode takes students to New Orleans to rebuild homes. Students see some math skills at work, but more importantly they see how mathematical thinking underlies the planning, scaling, modeling, and problem solving necessary to turn a devastated building back into a welcoming home.

Math empowers action.

©Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission.

Last updated on 05/31/2016