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5 Key Reasons Every Student Needs Higher Math

5 Key Reasons Every Student Needs Higher Math

(The following article was originally published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC in the Summer 2020 print edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It can also be viewed online here.) 

Some teens love math and know they’ll need it for their profession. Others, pursuing a college degree, have reluctantly accepted the fact that many colleges require algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or even calculus for admission. Then there are the students who can’t imagine ever using, and certainly not enjoying, any kind of higher math, and they aren’t afraid to let you know it!

Whichever camp your student is in, I submit that all of them should consider continuing with higher math in junior high, high school, and beyond. Here are five compelling reasons why:

1. Only God knows what the future holds.

Even if your student isn’t pursuing a math-related field now, God may have other opportunities in store for him or her in the future. My own winding career path is a perfect example of this. I’ve followed God’s leading from engineering to architecture to homeschool mom to writer and blogger. I’m now grateful I took advantage of writing opportunities during my young adult years. At the time, they seemed unnecessary, but now I see God was preparing me for future endeavors.

Advanced math might seem unimportant to your student now, but it could end up being a prerequisite for a changed major or necessary background information for a future job.

2. It’s more relevant than you think.

Higher math has the unfortunate reputation of being irrelevant to everyday life. Besides math teachers and rocket scientists, who really needs this stuff, right? Wrong! Believe it or not, algebra and geometry aren’t just random cruel exercises invented to torture teenagers; they actually help people solve everyday problems!

For example, I used the Pythagorean equation (a2 + b2 = c2) this past summer while helping my husband install new siding on our home. Trigonometry is useful in day-to-day life, too. Among other things, it helped my family figure out how tall our towering backyard pine tree is (with no climbing required). Having experience with higher math classes helps students find solutions to real questions, or at least know how to start looking for answers.

3. Math understanding enables wise stewardship.

Elementary and consumer math go a long way in helping us steward our financial resources. But basic arithmetic isn’t enough when it comes to comprehending more difficult financial concepts such as compound interest or depreciation. While taking calculus won’t automatically make your student a cheerful giver, an understanding of higher math concepts can help them better navigate their resource management.

Advanced math is a powerful tool for a young adult. An awareness of the mathematical complexities behind our economic systems will empower them to spend their money wisely and not be duped by marketing ploys. For example, they’ll be better able to compare convoluted sale prices or financing options and they’ll have the knowhow to make discerning choices when it comes to investments. Less money wasted on bad decisions and naiveté means more money available for Kingdom purposes.

4. Higher math improves analytical thinking.

In our “post-truth” culture, learning higher math can actually help counter the societal trends toward feelings-based reasoning. By training students’ brains to work in an orderly way, they become better able to think critically and logically in other areas of life. Students who’ve learned how to think this way are less likely to be tricked by the logical fallacies and other flawed arguments running rampant these days.

While any higher math class helps with logical thinking, courses in statistics can be particularly beneficial. Knowing how to accurately gather, analyze, and interpret data is a key skill-set in many fields, especially now that computerized data is so widespread. Students familiar with statistics are also better able to catch data misuse and manipulation.

5. Math is beautiful.

As Galileo Galilei expressed long ago, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.” From the curious mathematical constants we see showing up in nature to the motion of the galaxies to seed patterns on a sunflower, complex math is behind it all. Studying advanced math is an excellent way to learn more about the order and design in creation. And the more your student learns about the mathematical intricacies in our universe, the more awed he’ll be by our infinitely imaginative and brilliant Creator.

As ever-changing, math-based technologies make their way into more fields of study, advanced math is becoming more essential than ever for college and careers. But, even apart from professional necessity, the relevance, beauty and other numerous benefits of studying higher math are important factors every student should seriously consider when laying out their future plans.

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