As a parent you are likely to have been asked the question, "what's the point of maths?" This is often followed by, "when will I ever use this stuff?" or "how will maths help me later in life?"
Maths in schools can be largely skills-based - such as learning how to determine internal angles of shapes or using formulas to determine volume or capacity - rather than a study of what mathematics actually is. Mathematics is a study of patterns and a means of representing and describing the world in terms of quantities, shapes, and relationships.
This means that previously for many students, their understanding of mathematics has been completing tasks set by a teacher rather than developing their own understanding of angles or volume or capacity. Broadening the experience of maths beyond the completion of worksheets presents the subject as interesting, relevant, and engaging. Teachers look for opportunities for students to use maths beyond the prescribed daily lesson by relating work to real-life situations. Here at Salesian College Sunbury, all year levels undertake work involving application of facts to real-life problems. Some examples of real life maths at Salesian are:
Parents could encourage their children to think about and use maths in everyday contexts. For example, when travelling, children can look for patterns in car number plates (for example, digits that are consecutive (3, 4, 5), prime (2, 5, 7), or square (144)). They might predict which routes are quickest while using updated data on mobile devices, or determine how much of their favourite TV shows are devoted to advertising.
What is needed in our conversations with young people is a recognition that we use maths every day, perhaps without noticing it. For example, when navigating, determining likelihood, measuring, estimating, or when listening to the statistics offered by politicians, salespeople, or advertisers.
Because the focus on maths in schools has previously been on skills, rather than solving authentic problems, young people have been discouraged from further study in this area. A common misconception is that only a select handful of occupations use maths. But most occupations (for example, nurses, pilots, fashion designers, builders, journalists, truck drivers) use maths every day, often solving problems collaboratively.
Next time your child asks about the point of studying maths, some answers could be:
With acknowledgement to Kevin Larkin, Griffith University
Read an update from Acting Principal, Mrs Angela Romano
An update from our Principal, Mr Mark Brockhus, as we prepare to commence the 2019 school year.
Cricket great, Darren Lehmann, visited last week as part of our Ashes Oval Redevelopment Project and our Father's Day Breakfast