Why Should I Learn Mathematics?
Mathematics is used as a means to communicate about quantities, logical relationships, and unknowns. Such a simplistic statement may make students who are not planning to go to college ask why mathematics is necessary for them. While the ability to do computation is important, it is the skills of problem finding and problem solving, formalizing, abstract thinking, symbolic representation and interpretation, formulation of logical arguments, and objective reasoning that allow us to function effectively and understand our world.
Mathematics is the one area of coursework in the school curriculum where students are taught these skills, and where answers cannot be obtained just by common sense and guessing. Even without an ever-increasing reliance on technology, mathematical skills meet needs for practical everyday life, intelligent citizenship, and future employment. A study by Arizona State University indicated that students who opt out of advanced levels of mathematics and science may now eliminate up to 75% of career opportunities from which to choose*. Algebra has been called the academic passport for passage into virtually every facet of the job market. Employers want their employees to be able to set up problems, estimate solutions, identify how accurate solutions need to be, work with other people to reach goals, know the many different types of mathematics that exist, and determine which one is needed in a particular situation. It is clear that the mathematical literacy of the twentieth century will NOT be sufficient for the twenty-first century.
*ASU Research Fall 1998, p. 41
The above is taken the Arizona Department of Education website (2006)