Mathematics is a powerful and indispensable tool that can help you go further in life. In many countries around the world, mathematics is taught at all levels, from primary school to secondary school and beyond. After all, mathematics is part and parcel of life.
Even if you decide to go into fields such as architecture or fashion design, you would need to have some level of mathematical competence. An architect needs to know how to calculate the actual floor area of a room based on a scale drawing. A fashion designer uses geometry concepts to turn a flat piece of fabric into something that is three-dimensional.
Mathematics as a Lifelong Tool
Mathematics accompanies us throughout our lives, even after we are done with school. However, some students continue to believe otherwise. They find that mathematics is a complex subject that takes a lot of effort to learn. They dismiss the importance of learning mathematics by saying that they are “just not a numbers person”.
Some students claim that mathematics is too abstract and does not have any relevance to real life. These students often ask, when are we ever going to need this later in life? Chances are that you would not need to know how to differentiate or integrate a mathematical expression, unless your dream job is to be a teacher or an engineer.
Well, the good news is that you (most likely) wouldn’t need those abstract mathematical concepts later in life. Nevertheless, the underlying skills which you pick up in mathematics class will last you an entire lifetime.
Here are some good reasons why you should continue to study hard for your mathematics examinations:
1. Mathematics helps us to understand the world around us.
Mathematics can be used to explain many of the phenomena which we observe in the world around us. After all, mathematics forms the basis of many other natural sciences. From the laws of physics to creating models in biology, mathematics enables us to describe various processes in a systematic and rational manner.
Let’s take a step back and have a closer look at the things around us. Numbers are found everywhere. Numbers help you to keep track of the quantity of physical items. They can also be used to represent abstract concepts such as time. Geometric patterns such as symmetry and tessellations provide nature with some degree of order. Mathematics provides us with the basic building blocks for practically everything in our daily lives.
2. Mathematics helps you to solve real-world problems.
How many cans of paint do you need to buy in order to cover all the walls in your room? How much would your restaurant meal cost after you factor in tax and service charge? Or how much change do you get from a $10 note when you buy a book that is on sale with 30% off its original price of $12?
These are some questions which mathematics can help us solve. In our everyday encounters, we perform many mathematical calculations throughout the day. Sometimes, these calculations happen at the back of our mind. Mathematics equips us with the ability to make informed decisions and precise choices that are based on concrete figures.
Something more practical – mathematics can help you to manage your money better. Knowing the difference between simple interest and compound interest can affect the way you save and spend. By understanding how probability works, you are one step closer to making better financial decisions.
3. Mathematics develops your reasoning and logical skills.
When solving a mathematical problem, we often break it down into smaller steps. Every individual step which you take is used to support your subsequent arguments. Working towards the final solution involves a lot of conscious and thoughtful reasoning.
Learning mathematics is not just about numerical reasoning. Geometry sharpens your visual reasoning, while statistics can help you to get better at analytical reasoning. These reasoning skills are highly beneficial when you start to make major decisions in life.
Mathematics also provides you with logic training. It helps you to quickly understand the relationship between two concepts. As you solve a problem, you would need to cover all possible grounds to ensure that your arguments and proofs are watertight. Mathematics also equips you with the tools to draw logical and coherent conclusions in many real-world situations.
4. Mathematics strengthens your problem solving abilities.
In mathematics, there are many possible ways to solve a particular problem. Two students may approach a problem using completely different methods and arrive at the same solution. Just take a look at the number of proofs for the Pythagoras’ theorem – there are a few hundreds of them. And if you look closely, some of these solutions are more elegant than the remainder.
When solving a problem, you make use of the various tools which you have learnt over the years. When you revisit the problem a few days later, you may opt for another tool that leads you towards a different train of thought.
In real life, you can tap on your past experiences to help you make better decisions. Problem solving techniques such as incremental improvements or seeking patterns are also useful. Take the time to understand the pros and cons of each strategy before selecting an option.
5. Mathematics stimulates your brain and keeps you alert.
Solving mathematical problems is one way to give your brain a good mental workout. From quick mental calculations to difficult problems that take hours to solve, mathematics helps us to keep our mind active and sharp. When we put in the extra effort to avoid careless mistakes, we are training our brain to be more alert.
When you learn a new topic in mathematics, you would need to make use of your knowledge from previous topics. Retrieving information from long term memory helps to keep your brain active, allowing you to consolidate information more efficiently. Research has also shown that being mentally active helps to improve your memory and recall.
From time to time, test your personal limits by doing challenging questions that involve higher-order thinking. This mentally intense activity stimulates the brain by exposing it to new problems. With a sharp and focused mind, you are able to concentrate in class and perform better at examinations.
6. Mathematics can boost your confidence and resilience.
Solving mathematical problems are like solving puzzles. Both require a strong mind and lots of patience. Some problems are designed to make you think out of the box. Other problems involve joining the dots and piecing different concepts together. When you finally solve the problem after spending several hours on it, you would feel a sense of accomplishment.
The process of solving a problem and overcoming the challenges provides a person with a sense of pride and satisfaction. This positive experience helps to boost your self-esteem and confidence. Knowing that you have the ability to solve the most difficult problems would motivate you to go for more. But when you look at real-world problems, you would notice that there are no fixed solutions. Having a resilient and confident mindset gets you mentally prepared for future challenges in life.
Stimulating Mathematical Interest with Real-World Problems
In recent years, more mathematics questions are designed around real-life scenarios. Schools and curriculum writers are recognising the importance of helping students relate mathematical concepts to the world around them. By using scenarios which students are more familiar with, schools can get students to develop greater interest in learning mathematics.
Introducing students to real-world problems also encourages them to apply their mathematical knowledge in their day-to-day activities. It also contributes to their overall character development.
At homework.sg, we constantly refresh the real-life scenarios in our mathematics assessment books to ensure that the questions remain relevant. That’s something we do to make learning mathematics less boring and abstract for students. Solving real-world mathematical problems also helps students to develop and strengthen their lifelong cognitive skills.
And before we forget – the change you would receive after buying the $12 book that is on sale is $1.60.