Thursday, April 14, 2011

When Are We Gonna Have To Use This In Real Life?

It's been awhile since I've done one of these posts, so here you go.
Anyone – teachers, parents, community members – involved in education needs to grasp these concepts and be able to relate them to their students. Why? Because we don’t know where they’re headed in life.

I’ve always felt that education is about preparing someone to pursue whatever they’d like to pursue in adulthood. It doesn’t mean every kid necessarily gets to study every topic that interests him, but he should be equipped with the skills he’ll need to pursue what his school or community might not have been able to offer.

And that’s why we gotta know this, Mr. Sprague. We gotta know it because we don’t have a clue what the students we’re charged with teaching will do after high school.
A brilliant blogger with whom I'm acquainted wrote something similar over 5 years ago:
Bottom line is, I don't know when you're "ever gonna have to use this stuff". But isn't it good knowledge to have, just in case? And why cut yourself off from fields you don't even know about yet? I'll bet the women in school in 1930s Britain never thought they'd be using math to help shoot down Nazi aircraft.
Here's a similar example.

It's undeniable that the more education/knowledge they have, the more opportunities they'll have--with or without a college degree. Our business in education is to open doors for children, not to close them.


David said...

A math professor told me the following story...

STUDENT: What do you use this for, anyway?

PROF: You use it to make the atomic bomb!

STUDENT: *How* do you use it to make the atomic bomb?

PROF: That's classified!

socalmike said...

Before I started teaching engineering, I taught science (my background is in geology and the earth/environmental sciences).
One day the students were doing some sort of lab activity in groups of two. A girl asked the question - why do we have to know this.
I said, "You don't. You'll probably never do this again in your life. But, you need to know how to work in groups in whatever job you take, and you have to know how to solve problems given a certain set of criteria. That's why you need to know this."
She looked at me and said, "Okay. That's fair."
I'll never forget the look on her face. She asked, I answered, she knew.

scott mccall said...

show them the "Math Doodles" youtube channel. it's a girl doing random doodles while explaining certain mathematical properties about them

mazenko said...

A classical education with a broad knowledge base is necessary to "grow the brains" of our students and allow them a vast store of information to draw from, regardless of their chosen career path. And, thus, there is no good argument against less education.

However, there is a practicality to education, the economy, and society. And currently there is not enough choice for students - at the high school level - to determine what they want for who they are and who they want to be.

Thus, knowledge up to eighth grade should be standard and rigorous, the requirements for ninth and tenth should open up - with plenty of counseling on what they might need - and eleventh and twelth should be wide open for choice.

Alf said...

The consequences of ignorance? -

AlleninHawaii said...

When I was a teacher years ago and my students would ask the inevitable question (with minor variations) - "Why do we have to learn this?", I would always answer the class this way:

"Because for whatever reason people are going to lie to you your entire lives and you have to know enough to recognize when it's happening."

Ellen K said...

What's funny is how willing people are to dismiss as useless those topics about which they know nothing. I have had some math and science teacher say to my face that art is useless. Then I point out that every stitch of clothing, every stick of furniture, every house, office and church had a designer well versed in design and art and art history to know how to produce something new. Everything has its place and the more you know about a variety of topics, the better off you will be. The idea that just this or just that will serve is why we have a population with such a thin veneer of culture overlaid on a barbaric code of ethics. When we valued all subjects, as demonstrated by the Old School liberal arts education model, we had a shared culture. Now that we specialize, we have a divided culture wherein some aspects of our society literally cannot communicate with others. Think Ebonics or Environmentalism or even Politics and the white noise of the media echo chambers squashed any meaningful debate. I think Rome was like this just before the Fall.