Ever since mankind has existed, people complain about the obsession with learning math. I’ll never need to use it in the concrete world. I want to be a fireman or a cowboy or a news reader and they don’t need to know how to do math. Technological progress makes it even more difficult. The varied arrays of electronic devices that are available for the public make the perspective of playing around with mathematical calculations even less appealing. Why would it make sense to take any effort in working with formulas, and even worse, memorizing them, when the same result can be achieved with a calculator a zillion times faster? It seems like a valid question, and it turns out that students ask it all the time
The answer to the question has some complexity, which goes a bit further the evident. It is clear that no one likes to memorize just for the sake of it; however starting with basics is the start of most fields of learning. It is possible that reversing the order of math studies might do much toward helping students to comprehend why the study of math can be helpful.
Among the reasons why the study of math is necessary is that it creates the need for students to read and comprehend, which also pushes them to learn how to organize their rational-mental processes and to be able to see depth in more challenging problems. The formulas by themselves won’t help to fully comprehend how to apply a formula. In order to master that ability, the students need to train their brains in order to recognize patterns and elements that will allow them to associate knowledge and to gain a more complete understanding. To be able to lay out the parameters of the math problem will help a student learn the same procedure for other fields of study as well.
In addition to learning how to organize your thinking due to math, you will need to understand how to apply formulas and procedures in order to come up with the answer to the questions. In other words, unless you understand something about the mechanisms of math, you won’t have any idea how to enter numbers into a computer. While the actual calculation performed by a calculator does greatly simplify even routine problem solving, to raise three generations of students with no understanding of how to use a calculator to establish which of two items in different sized containers costs more is a travesty of the concept of mathematics education. Many adults fail to understand the concept of reconciling a bank statement, or calculating true cost of an adjustable rate mortgage.
The current state of affairs in American education is troublesome at best. Even the tests which are designed with the purpose of monitoring the progress of students show a continual decline in the understanding of math. Teachers are criticized for not trying to go a little bit further, and maybe this criticism is not justified, because this fall is part of a deeper tendency.