Should consumer math be taught in schools instead of geometry? That’s the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. That’s like saying we should teach students how to read instead of how to write. Now before you go huffing and puffing that I must be a math teacher, I can assure you that I am not. In fact I teach high school Earth Science. The reason I went into the Earth Sciences was that geology was for the most part, math free. You see, I am a math phobic! I don’t like math and I never have.
In high school I struggled with all my courses, and in fact the only class I ever failed was geometry, when I was in eighth grade. Of course I blamed the teacher, how could it ever be my fault? Why do I have to know this stuff I asked?
At this point, some sayings come to mind. Karma. What goes around comes around. Years later, I became quite interested in dinosaurs and began excavating dinosaur footprints and track ways on the East Coast of the United States. I had always liked dinosaurs growing up, and as my geology training intensified, I began to realize that hunting for dinosaurs was something that I could actually do. In fact, I began to make many exciting discoveries, including the first and only dinosaur fossil to be found on Long Island.
So you are probably asking yourself what the heck dinosaurs have to do with consumer math or geometry? Well, dinosaur bones can tell you a lot about the dinosaur they came from. But bones are the remains of the dinosaur in death. The footprints however were made when the dinosaur was alive. As such, they can be used to learn quite a bit about the animal that made them. By measuring the size of the footprint and the stride length, you can calculate the speed that the dinosaur was moving and if it was walking or running. And from this speed, you can then infer if they were warm or cold blooded. Well guess what I needed to make these calculations and measurements? You guessed it! Geometry. Talk about irony, huh? I wish I could have gone back in time to that eighth grade boy and whispered in his ear.
Well, the moral of the story is simply that you cannot pick and choose what type of math a student should be taught. Math is a process where your mind is trained to do problem solving. As it is impossible to see into the future, it would be prudent to have students presented with a well rounded treatment of mathematics.