Perhaps the following scenario rings a bell: you have just spent the past 25 minutes going over with your class the finer points of the distributive property, and you ask the class if there are any questions. A student raises her hand, stares you down and asks, “Am I ever going to need this in my life or anything?”
This may not have happened to you personally, but it has happened to countless other teachers (and parents during homework). Students are so focused on the end result of their education that they fail to see how vital each part of it truly is. And with math, which is a structure which builds on itself, they really can be impatient while waiting for the “payoff” of “where is this road going to lead me?”
One way to answer their concern is to assure them that math, indeed, will help them later in life. How? Because math is used in many of the careers they aspire to and are planning to pursue. Hopefully, this notion will pique their interest, but even if they are skeptical, you can go on to provide them with the following examples of professions which rely on math as one of their day-to-day tools to get their jobs done:
- Chef/Cook/Baker: People who prepare food use a lot of math, actually. When following recipes there are fractions involved, especially when customizing the servings; there is physical measuring of dough and other ingredients; and there is other math used as well.
- Mechanic: I’m not even going to try to fake my way around car math. I just know that mechanics need to know mathematical things, like pounds per square inch and torque.
- Carpenter/Contractor: Anybody who builds anything uses math. Lots of it. Building things is not done by eye; that geometry that seemed so irrelevant does have a purpose somewhere.
- Seamstress/Tailor/Clothing Designer: People who create clothing do not escape math. They are using it when they are working with measurements as well as cloth.
- Truck Driver: Truck Drivers need to know weights, heights, and remember those annoying word problems where “Bill left Chicago at 6:00 going 55 miles per hour and had to be in New York by 3:00…”? This is reality for the truck driver. They have to figure out this formula constantly so they can be where they are supposed to be on time.
- Farmer: The farmer has to use all the math skills listed above because the farmer does basically a bit of everything. Plus, planning where crops are planted and countless other math applications.
- Teachers: Well, of course teachers teach math, but teachers also need math in several other ways. Figuring out grades and averages, even with a calculator, takes math. Multiplying and dividing books, papers, supplies, etc. by number of students, scoring assessments, scheduling, the list goes on.
Hopefully, this list helps you and your students to realize that practically every profession utilizes math in some way or another. Perhaps you are inspired to continue this list with other professions you can imagine using math? It can be a great motivator to know that learning math will matter!
Comment below and add to the list of jobs/Professions that involve math!