I get this question a lot from students and from people who ask me whether I ever use any of the math that I have learned as an undergraduate. I think it is a really hard question because a lot of times we don't use calculus or solve for polynomials in our everyday life. When people ask me these questions, I often tell them that I use the problem solving skills I gained as an undergraduate student in mathematics in every aspect of my life. But I'm not sure if that's just me trying to justify why a degree in mathematics is important or if I truly believe that higher mathematics gives me practice in better problem solving skills.
So, how do I answer a student who asks me "Why am I learning this?" The math I use daily usually consists of adding, subtracting, multiply, dividing, and taking percentages...you know, the stuff you learned in elementary school. Ava Erickson mentioned an interesting book on her blog by Eric Gutstein which touches on this issue. So, as a future math teacher, how can I encourage kids to value math and show that it has some relevance?
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