What do you get when you add teachers and mathematics? A mathematics teacher (MT)! Now multiply MT by all the students in the world (S) and that gives you a mathematically educated youth. Then throw in all the technology and connectedness (TC) of today’s world and you get…
[(MT)S]+(TC) = limitless possibilities
“Children are our greatest natural resource,” said Herbert Hoover. Although he was a former president of the United States, what he said isn’t something that’s applicable to one country alone–this is a worldwide truth. Challenges are wide-reaching and our students need to be prepared as much as possible to thrive in a globalized environment.
This upcoming week is #MathsWeek in Ireland which is why I am going to focus on the importance of a mathematically educated and analytical youth! Here are five reasons why maths will equip our future to address current challenges.
5. Budgets: Finance and Simple Subtraction
Budgeting is an essential skill that is dependent on excellent maths. If I make €1,000/month working at my job–I need to budget. If I qualify for a credit card with a €5,000 limit, that makes my budgeting even much more important! I need to know how much I can spend on different expenditures each month. I am better able to help others when I am taking care of myself. I also need to take into account how long I want to work and how I plan to fund my life when I retire. As I begin to think about retirement, my budgeting problems all of a sudden can become my community’s problems. I better serve my community when I set myself up for financial security.
On a larger scale, those making the budgets for our communities, businesses, and countries have additional pressure. Maths will drive money decisions, so we had all better hope the maths are strong–both for those in power and those holding them accountable!
4. Go Global: Changing Units and Comparisons
If our future leaders are going to address the global challenges of today, they need to understand how different numbers mean different things in different places. If I make €400/month in Dublin, Ireland–that is not a liveable wage. If I make €400/month but live in San Francisco, California–my money will go further due to the exchange rate–but that is still not a liveable wage. Whereas if I choose to live in Thailand and make that amount, I would be making more than the average monthly wage. If we are going to to ever address poverty on a global scale, we need to be able to multiply, compare, find the equivalent amount in a different unit!
3. Medicine: Data, Patterns, Statistics
If we are going to solve the world’s diseases, we need brilliant mathematicians — and not just in research labs, but everywhere. Even if I am not a doctor or scientist, I still need to understand what statistics say about my health concerns. I have to be knowledgeable about the patterns of my body so I can partner with doctors when I go in. Just because we haven’t found the answers yet for different medical challenges and diseases, doesn’t mean it’s not there–the more people we have paying attention to the information, the numbers, engaging in conversations about medicine the better off we will be.
2. The Magnitude of the Numbers
We don’t learn numbers for numbers sake; we learn numbers’ because they represent and quantify everything around us. They hold so much power because of the story and information they convey. Reading on the Save The Children Website that “62 million girls around the world are not in school” does not mean anything if we don’t comprehend the gravity of the statement. I would argue that in order to get our youth to answer the numerous calls to actions that are out there, they have to understand the numbers. 62,000,000 girls. The entire population of Ireland is about ~4.5 million people and we’ll round up to 5 million. So 62,000,000 girls out of school isn’t just a number, it is every single person that is living in Ireland multiplied by 12.4. Imagine if every girl you have ever seen in your life was denied an education–that’s still not even close to the number. Maths gives the power to the story. Understand the numbers is what will motivate our young people to change the stories. 62,000,000 girls is far too many. We NEED our students to know that.
1. We don’t even know yet.
Our world is changing rapidly–it is very exciting! But with this rapid growth comes an air of uncertainty as to what the future holds. We don’t know how the world will change from the first day students enter our education system to the day they graduate from our rooms, but we do know that maths will still be here. Maths is a tool, so let’s teach them how to use it. Not because we know every reason they will need it, but because we don’t. The unknown holds limitless possibilities, let’s give our kids every tool and skill we can and see where they take us.
The future will be determined by our kids. I like the odds of a great future when we have a mathematically educated global team!