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Why do people consistently ask "when am i ever going to use this" when talking about math? How often do students ever use Huckleberry Finn? Yet, they read it in class and dont question its application to their personal lives. Why is math the only subject that has to put with this sh*t? 

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4 hours ago, Vegas said:

Why do people consistently ask "when am i ever going to use this" when talking about math? How often do students ever use Huckleberry Finn? Yet, they read it in class and dont question its application to their personal lives. Why is math the only subject that has to put with this sh*t? 

Because you can't get Huckleberry Finn wrong,

but you can certainly get math wrong.

And math will have an effect on your entire life.

 

The emotion is probably best described as FEAR.

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3 minutes ago, peter45 said:

Because you can't get Huckleberry Finn wrong,

but you can certainly get math wrong.

And math will have an effect on your entire life.

 

The emotion is probably best described as FEAR.

You can get a lot of subjects wrong. Thats life. 

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I always loved math and English in high school. I flirted with the idea of studying biology, but I really didn't like dissection, so that idea evaporated.

 

I ended up studying math at university, and I learned programming on my own, and then became a software engineer through on the job training. So my work is math related. I always like it when I get to do some math at work, even though it's not nearly at the level I got to in my studies.

 

As a student, I did a lot of tutoring to make extra cash, and did well at that. What I learned about how people understand things is this: not everyone reacts to language the same way. You have to find ways to say things that will work for the person you're talking to, that will resonate with their personal psychology.

 

As a grad student, and after, I taught many different courses, at Concordia University and University of Ottawa. Anything from Calculus I to Linear Algebra, to Symbolic Logic and Set Theory, to Statistics, to Discrete Mathematics, to Differential Equations. Anything for a buck. I even taught MBA students, and taught one course in French. (My French wasn't great at the time, but I did my best.)

 

Saying things in different ways to fit everyone's different psychology is really hard in a classroom setting. There just isn't the time. I can see that as being the case in high school too. Plus, hormones and rebellion make many students unteachable at that age.

 

But you asked:

 

On 11/22/2019 at 1:17 PM, Vegas said:

Why do people consistently ask "when am i ever going to use this" when talking about math?

 

Don't focus on those words specifically. All they mean is, "I hate this, and please stop making me feel guilty about hating it." That's what they really mean.

 

But what I hear is: "Do you want fries with that?" 🍔🍟

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:17 AM, Vegas said:

Why do people consistently ask "when am i ever going to use this" when talking about math? How often do students ever use Huckleberry Finn? Yet, they read it in class and dont question its application to their personal lives. Why is math the only subject that has to put with this sh*t? 

Huckleberry Finn is subjective. Math is not. 3x=9 only has one correct answer. There are multiple ways to interpret literature. 

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3 minutes ago, impartialobserver said:

Huckleberry Finn is subjective. Math is not. 3x=9 only has one correct answer. There are multiple ways to interpret literature. 

Ok? 

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1 minute ago, Vegas said:

Ok? 

There is a level of fear when it comes to math. I saw it in college when I would take finance, math, economics, and statistics. Literature... you can be creative and come up with dozens, hundreds, or more of possible answers/interpretations. Math/Statistics... only one answer and so if you get it wrong, it is clear that you did and no amount of BS or justification is going to change that. 

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5 minutes ago, impartialobserver said:

There is a level of fear when it comes to math. I saw it in college when I would take finance, math, economics, and statistics. Literature... you can be creative and come up with dozens, hundreds, or more of possible answers/interpretations. Math/Statistics... only one answer and so if you get it wrong, it is clear that you did and no amount of BS or justification is going to change that. 

Yes, but the question is why do they ask "when am i ever going to use this?" I know math can be hard, but i dont understand why math is the only subject that has to put up with that question. 

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8 minutes ago, Vegas said:

Yes, but the question is why do they ask "when am i ever going to use this?" I know math can be hard, but i dont understand why math is the only subject that has to put up with that question. 

Some of it is the fact that we have software that does all the math for you. Also, most do not care about the process but rather the result. If all you care about is analyzing the end number then it really matters not how you got to that end number. 

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On 12/3/2019 at 4:18 PM, Vegas said:

Yes, but the question is why do they ask "when am i ever going to use this?" I know math can be hard, but i dont understand why math is the only subject that has to put up with that question. 

 

I answered the question of why they say that above. Repeated here:

 

On 11/24/2019 at 12:58 PM, laripu said:

Don't focus on those words specifically. All they mean is, "I hate this, and please stop making me feel guilty about hating it." That's what they really mean.

 

As to why it's the only subject for which that's asked, that's because it's the only one that's required for every other field. Few schools compel the study of physics or biochemistry as a graduation requirement. Most compel the study of mathematics.

 

I'm assuming that it's high school students that ask that question, because university students usually know that most fields at that level require at least basic mathematical knowledge. (I know there are exceptions. Please don't list them. That's the equivalent of asking the question. 🙂)

 

Quote

Some of it is the fact that we have software that does all the math for you. Also, most do not care about the process but rather the result. If all you care about is analyzing the end number then it really matters not how you got to that end number.

 

I'm reminded of a story that a friend of mine, also an engineer, tells. It took place in Montreal, Québec, back in the 90s. Sales tax there (federal and provincial together) is around 15%. He bought something that cost a bit over $120. When it rang up, it came to a bit over $300. He complained that there had to have been an error. The checkout clerk said it was due to taxes. He said that this was impossible, that 15% of $120 could not possibly raise the price to $300. At this juncture, the clerk had attitude, rolling her eyes, shrugging her shoulders. She said "Que veux-tu que je fasse? C'est dans l'ordinateur!!" which means "What do you want me to do? It's in the computer!!" In your mind, add the exasperated contempt in her body language, expressed for the customer who was inconveniently not innumerate.

 

Anyway, they called the manager. The clerk expressed her anger to the manager, anger at this intractable customer who dared to question the computer. The manager didn't bat an eye. He didn't chastise the clerk. He just quietly voided the sale, rang it up again correctly, and apologized to my friend. He was used to innumeracy.

 

What does this all mean? You could take from this that French Canadians, or Canadians in general, aren't any smarter than Americans. You'd be right. You could assume that working as a cashier, with a computerized cash register, might still be above the ability of some people of slightly below-average intelligence. You'd be right about that too.

 

Or, you could think that while

120 + 0.15 * 120 =138

if you move a decimal point then

120 + 1.5 * 120 = 300.

 

That clerk, she didn't think that.

 

It gave my friend a story that lasted decades. When he tells it, his excellent imitation of the street-slangy Québec French accent makes it much funnier than I can manage to make it in writing.

 

I understand that McD's cash register uses pictograms. Do you want fries with that?

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On 12/3/2019 at 2:04 PM, impartialobserver said:

Huckleberry Finn is subjective. Math is not. 3x=9 only has one correct answer. There are multiple ways to interpret literature. 

 

"always look for the trick question" teacher said

 

 3x=9   triangle ?

3x=9 orange slices ?

 

 x is like hello kitty , it can be anything it wants to be

 

" lets hope soon " seems to be a good answer to the question at hand

  one I am guilty of uttering in my youth 

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When computer programing became a real profession from which you could earn a living, that changed the economy and changed the extent to which math was important.

 

Computer education meant studying various kinds of math. At the very least, programmers had to understand symbolic logic. Most would also need discrete math, which follows various calculus and linear algebra courses. If they came to computing from engineering, they'd also take differential equations. Add to that courses in programming, operating systems, etc.

 

So to fill these jobs, people needed an education that required a certain intelligence level. And in turn, they created a world of automatic processes that put many workers out of work.

 

The next level is coming: quantum computing. There will be a higher bar to learn it. It will throw more people out of work.

 

The higher bar is linear algebra over the field of complex numbers. Usually, linear algebra is studied over the real numbers, and complex analysis is a separate course. Linear algebra over the field of complex numbers would have to come after those two courses, so probably third year. Plus, some understanding of quantum mechanics will be required and the entire way of thinking will be different. The infrastructure to work this is being created and tested now by Microsoft and others.

 

That bit about the way of thinking being different, means that it will be hard to retrain older programmers to do quantum programming, unless they have a certain mental flexibility and desire.

 

When there are a small number of quantum programmers, they're going to put a lot of data analysts out of work. When software in a quantum computer can mine big data ... all the big data ... and discover in a minute what would take a current supercomputer a year ... what good are statistical sociologists?

 

As the level of complexity goes up, the more you need to understand, to earn a reasonable living.

 

I expect the future to involve more drugs, more prostitution, more crime more people in minimum wage service jobs, more billionaires, more populist dictators globally, and very few middle class jobs. Whatever is dysfunctional now will get worse, and many things that work now will stop working. That's what happens every time the means of wealth production change.

 

One other thing. The new technologies will mean that the human genome, the holy Grail of big data, will be completely understood. Once understood, there will be the opportunity to extend human lifespan, perhaps double, perhaps more.

 

But:

 

For billionaires only.

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