Mathematics is a very important subject for everyone. As a biased college student majoring in mathematics, I’ll refrain from saying that it is the most important subject, however it is one of high importance during a time where more people are focusing on scientific careers. It is because of this importance that we must not put subjects against each other, but embrace them all.
The general curriculum of both Geometry and Consumer Mathematics contain elements that I feel are necessary to learn. However, I feel that it would be more practical to use the elements of Consumer Math as applications in other math classes throughout a student’s high school career. Things such as sales tax can easily be covered in an 6th or 7th grade math class when learning about ratios and percentage. It is important to understand that concept, but does a student with working knowledge of percentages as early as 6th grade really need to work on taxes for a two day period, when it can be integrated into a set of problems with a mix of other applications as well? That would be a waste of class time, and essentially be review. The same applies for topics such as commission and interest. Commission would be another application of percentage while interest is already covered in many Algebra classes when working with functions and exponents.
One could potentially argue that Geometry is nothing more than applications of Algebra as well. This is very true, yet there are skills that students learn in Geometry classes that are considerably exclusive to the topic itself. For instance, area is simply an application of functions in algebra. Yet, surface area can be seen as an application, but a deeper understanding is needed to understand how area and surface area relate.
A distinct difference between how Consumer Math and Geometry is used also exists. Consumer Math can be considered a ‘terminal’ class, as I call it. It can be learned and nothing comes after it. Geometry classes are used as part of a sequence and includes topics that are revisited and expanded on in Pre-Calculus classes. So while it would be an easy out for the rare bunch that will never need any knowledge of geometry, it will not help out the students that will likely be required to take Pre-Calculus or more in college.
Consumer Mathematics should be taught in schools. The fact is that it is a reasonably basic subject, and should be integrated into the curriculum appropriately. It could possibly be an elective class, but using it as a replacement for any other class is not acceptable. Most schools require only 3 years of math with a basic math class being sometimes accepted as opposed to Algebra I. Why make an entire class based on what is mostly application of stuff learned as early as junior high school?