There’s a couple of complaints I get in math class on a regular basis, usually along the lines of “when are we going to use this in real life?” and “this is too hard for me.” At first I thought it would be good to discuss the question to remind the students of the importance of the work we’re doing, and that mastering it is mostly a matter of consistent practice. Each time I hear the same students make the same complaint I become more aware that they aren’t listening to my answer. It’s never the students with great grades who say these things, it’s lazy kids trying to get out of work. Each time my answer has been less polite. Today I might have hurt someone’s feelings. If this trend continues at the same rate, there may be an incident. To avoid that event, I’m going to give a short presentation and hang a poster about the following information:
5 Reasons why we’re going to do more of that type of problem you are complaining about:
1. Strengthening your mind
The mind is like a muscle and needs to exercised to improve or maintain it’s ability. Math provides a good structure for learning logic and problem solving skills with a clear set of boundaries. Practicing math helps develop general mental function.
2. Building fundamentals
The math we practice in class is always going to be difficult because we are trying to learn as much new information as possible. That doesn’t mean that this math is especially hard however. In fact Algebra is relatively basic math, and it is a stepping stone to understand more advanced math. Eventually it will seem easy, and you will learn more short cuts, but only after you spend enough time working at it.
3. Employment and practical life skills
There are a number of careers that use a high degree of math on a regular basis, including in the areas of engineering, research, finance, medicine, etc. Also, most jobs and daily activities that involve determining costs or quantity or size or understanding statistics could be made simpler with a better understanding of math.
4. Higher Education
If you have plans for further education after highschool, most programs, even if they aren’t math related fields, will have some basic requirement for acceptance into the school and classes that must be taken while at the school. The curriculum in our school is designed for preparation for higher education and general life skills, so if you feel like these skills don’t apply to you, please take a moment to consider what your other options have to offer.
5. This class
This is math class. In math class we study math. I’m the teacher. I choose what we study based on the curriculum that has been chosen for this school. You don’t have to enjoy math class. You don’t even have to study in math class, but my job is to give you an opportunity to learn and give you a grade based on your effort and understanding of the material. If you want to pass, I recommend you spend more time focused on the material.
Now, I want to help students of students who are frustrated and struggling. We can talk about it on an individual basis. Understand if you are behind, it’s going to take work on your part to catch up. I’m also supportive of out-of-the-box thinking about effective education systems, and we can discuss that – after math class.