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Is maths in school useful to you?
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Andreas Offline
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Is maths in school useful to you?
We all need to do calculations in real life because of our jobs or whatever, but do i really need to know all these trigonometric functions, logarithms and formulas and other really boring stuff?

Has anyone found any of the maths they learnt in school, useful (with the exclusion of statistics)?
02-13-2012 12:45 PM
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Kickb Away
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
I think the main thinh you take away from maths such as calculus and trig(if you don't need them for your career) is enhanced problem solving abilities.
(This post was last modified: 02-13-2012 01:09 PM by Kickb.)
02-13-2012 01:08 PM
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gringochileno Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
(02-13-2012 01:08 PM)kickboxer Wrote:  I think the main thinh you take away from maths such as calculus and trig(if you don't need them for your career) is enhanced problem solving abilities.

I think that's right. I was a math major in college and I'm probably never going to need to know abstract algebra or or differential equations in my day-to-day life, but it absolutely trained me to think clearly and logically, which is a skill I use pretty much every day.

I've found that this is the case with most educational fields, actually. The reason why people with better educational backgrounds usually have better job prospects usually isn't because they need to use the actual content of their coursework in their jobs (with the exception of technical fields like medicine or engineering), but rather because it's recognized that getting a formal education helps you develop broadly applicable critical thinking skills.

Case in point: philosophy, which you might consider a pretty useless major as far as providing "real world" knowledge, is actually a great thing to study because it produces graduates with strong analytical skills and across-the-board smarts:
[Image: gre2.png]
[Image: gre1.png]
(This post was last modified: 02-13-2012 02:09 PM by gringochileno.)
02-13-2012 02:06 PM
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cibo Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
Math is more about the approach. You really don't need that much math to succeed in life.

I'm in a heavy math role doing data analysis, I never use trigg and barely use calculus outside of the concepts. Most of my job is about the logic of structuring the problem/algorithm. I probably use more statistical methods than my co-works. But in general, we don't actually use much more than averages and basic arithmetic. One of my co-works is a physics degree and he literately uses dick from his major other than the problem solving approach.

And adding to gringo's post.

Quote:On average nationally, business students enter the work force with higher starting salaries than humanities and social science majors. By mid-career, however, some of those liberal arts majors, including political science and philosophy majors, have closed the gap.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/educat...wanted=all

I'm biased towards Poli Sci since I did that in undergrad and while it was shit for getting my first job, I think I had really good training in critical analysis which allowed me to hop from qualitative stuff to hard statistics/data analysis when I had the opportunity. Unfortunately, half the time people take classes that make it becomes sociology lite and crap the reputation for everyone else.
(This post was last modified: 02-13-2012 03:10 PM by cibo.)
02-13-2012 03:05 PM
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tenderman100 Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
(02-13-2012 02:06 PM)gringochileno Wrote:  I think that's right. I was a math major in college and I'm probably never going to need to know abstract algebra or or differential equations in my day-to-day life, but it absolutely trained me to think clearly and logically, which is a skill I use pretty much every day.

I've found that this is the case with most educational fields, actually. The reason why people with better educational backgrounds usually have better job prospects usually isn't because they need to use the actual content of their coursework in their jobs (with the exception of technical fields like medicine or engineering), but rather because it's recognized that getting a formal education helps you develop broadly applicable critical thinking skills.

Case in point: philosophy, which you might consider a pretty useless major as far as providing "real world" knowledge, is actually a great thing to study because it produces graduates with strong analytical skills and across-the-board smarts:
[Image: gre2.png]
[Image: gre1.png]

Hey, even though we disagreed on that chart in the other thread, I agree with you here totally.

In college I was an English major with a philosophy minor. I thought Phil would be easy -- more book reading and paper writing, both of which I was good at.

Wrong.

The symbolic logic course I took to fulfill one of the minor requirements was the hardest course I took in college, and that includes two courses in Calculus.

ANYBODY who has (a)writing skills coupled with (b) analytical skills will ALWAYS be able to find work.
02-13-2012 03:08 PM
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gringochileno Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
(02-13-2012 03:08 PM)tenderman100 Wrote:  Hey, even though we disagreed on that chart in the other thread, I agree with you here totally.

In college I was an English major with a philosophy minor. I thought Phil would be easy -- more book reading and paper writing, both of which I was good at.

Wrong.

The symbolic logic course I took to fulfill one of the minor requirements was the hardest course I took in college, and that includes two courses in Calculus.

ANYBODY who has (a)writing skills coupled with (b) analytical skills will ALWAYS be able to find work.

Yeah, I don't think a lot of people really understand how rigorous a serious philosophy education is. There's a stereotypical image of a bunch of hippies smoking weed and arguing about pointless bullshit at 3AM, but the reality is the opposite--understanding 20th Century analytic philosophy texts requires VERY sharp critical thinking skills, and combined with the obvious need for good writing skills (most philosophy courses are graded almost exclusively on essays), studying philosophy tends to give you an extremely solid and broad-based skill set that a lot of employers value. I took a fair number of philosophy classes in college and they were no joke--some of the smartest kids I met in school were philosophy majors too.

(That said, I think the hardest class I took in college was 3rd semester Real Analysis. Those problem sets were straight-up painful.)
(This post was last modified: 02-13-2012 03:35 PM by gringochileno.)
02-13-2012 03:34 PM
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UrbanNerd Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
I agree with what GringoChileno said. I was also a math major (well applied math) in college and the logical thinking is what helps me day to day. Also, because of my background is applied statistics (mostly from grad school), I know whether to take someone's hypothesis seriously or not. I get a big laugh when I hear folks making this big generalization off of their huge sample size of 3, lol.

My hardest math course was Advanced Calculus which at my school (Michigan State Univ) was a "light version" of Real Analysis. We (applied math majors) did not have to take the regular Real Analysis course with the Rudin textbook, thank God.
02-13-2012 04:25 PM
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Andreas Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
My maths teacher told me that in maths, algebra, diferentiation/integration (my biggest nightmare), logarithms and other bullshit don't really sharpen your analytical skills. He says that trigonometry and geometry helps people to think fast and analyse better.

On philosophy, in the past there were schools that studied only this subject. Why don't they exist anymore?
02-13-2012 05:05 PM
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gringochileno Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
(02-13-2012 04:25 PM)UrbanNerd Wrote:  We (applied math majors) did not have to take the regular Real Analysis course with the Rudin textbook, thank God.

Ha. That was my analysis textbook. I wanted to burn that little blue fucker at the end of the year lol.
02-13-2012 05:12 PM
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Hades Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
I have found that maths in general are useful to me in daily life, but nothing beyond basic stuff.
Trig, geometry, maybe some basic calculus (related rates and stuff) I have found nice applications for in daily life.
Fourier analysis, formal logic, serious calculus, etc, are usually difficult for me to retain since I have no use for them outside of classes.
(This post was last modified: 02-14-2012 12:21 AM by Hades.)
02-14-2012 12:16 AM
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_DC_ Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
I read somewhere that the best indication of salary after college is # of math courses taken. Whether you actually use it or not in day-to-day work is a different matter.

This has something to do with many majors requiring lots of math e.g. engineering being better paying jobs. I think it boils down to the simple fact that many people simply don't "get" higher level math, and its a supply and demand thing.
(This post was last modified: 02-14-2012 12:56 AM by _DC_.)
02-14-2012 12:55 AM
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All or Nothing Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
I'm taking mechanical engineering and I'll say calculus and algebra are EXTREMELY important.

I think people underestimate the importance of calculus and algebra. I am a sophomore now and I am beginning to see just how crucial calculus is to practically everything is in our daily lives. Calculus is used to figure out pipe systems, pistons, strains in materials and how materials act in real life. Essentially the buildings that you live in, the pipes that supply you water, the cars you drive and more (I still have two and a half years left) all have a basis in calculus to calculate what the most effective and efficient design is for the materials. How the materials are shaped, how much power is supplied to them, how efficient they are, what thickness the materials are, all have a basis in calculus.

I think most people underestimate the importance of calculus because most people (from where I live at least) are interested in business, law, politics, and becoming a doctor.


(02-13-2012 05:05 PM)Andreas Wrote:  My maths teacher told me that in maths, algebra, diferentiation/integration (my biggest nightmare), logarithms and other bullshit don't really sharpen your analytical skills. He says that trigonometry and geometry helps people to think fast and analyse better.

On philosophy, in the past there were schools that studied only this subject. Why don't they exist anymore?

I disagree completely. I have found it to be the exact opposite. When I started taking classes that used all the "bullshit" you talked about, it forced me to think about stuff in a completely different way. My statics and dynamics class, alone, was an eye opening experience. Whereas trigonometry and geometry is more of finding how lengths and angles relate and taking the numbers for that to apply the "bullshit" to.
(This post was last modified: 02-14-2012 01:08 AM by All or Nothing.)
02-14-2012 01:05 AM
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Andreas Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
The only reason i chose to study maths this year was because i thought i was only going to study statistics and little of the other stuff but it turns out that i will have 1 paper for statistics and 2 for the other stuff in the exams. I'm seriously thinking about choosing maths next year. My teacher told me that whatever subject i choose to study with the exeption of law, the first year at university i will be doing maths also. That is another reason why i ask. I don't want to go to the university and have no clue what i'm doing
02-14-2012 04:46 AM
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Enfant_Terrible Offline
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RE: Is maths in school useful to you?
In typical life situations math is minimal unless it's related to your profession or studies.

When it comes to the purpose of teaching Mathematics, most American teachers only see it as going through the motions of the school day and think it's important but can't articulate why or have a simplistic view. This leads them to teach Mathematics in a similar way that it becomes simplistic, forced, non-stimulating, uneventful, and trivial.

Because of this many kids grow up to dislike math, think they don't like it, think it's useless, don't go into math-related professions or studies, and we have a population full of people whose brains are not exercised to think well and solve problems.

This is why I think math should be useful to everybody and must be taught well, not that everybody needs to be a mathematician or an engineer, so we have lots of people in the world capable of critical thought.
(This post was last modified: 02-14-2012 05:48 PM by Enfant_Terrible.)
02-14-2012 05:48 PM
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