Ask most high school students what their least favorite subject is and 9 out of 10 times you will hear “math” as the response. There is something about mathematics and numbers that just doesn’t speak to our youth. Science delves into the world of live animals and living organisms; geography involves interesting places which can be visited or researched. But Geometry and Trigonometry fall flat when it comes to real life as seen from the eyes of a 12th grader.
Growing up years ago, I was always the odd (wo)man out. I really enjoyed math and still do. In high school, I saw the numbers and equations as puzzles longing to be worked on and loved discovering their solutions. When presented with a geometry problem, I could feel the blood rushing to my brain in excitement and anticipation and when deciphering the equation, I could barely hold myself back from screaming ‘eureka.’
Numbers and Technology
Computers and advanced technology have removed most of the excitement of mathematics while at the same time have introduced other elements of equal or greater significance. Numbers and their implications have major applications in many other areas today and understanding their consequences is vital for constant advancements in many fields.
It could be suggested that those pupils who show more than average acumen in math should be separated out from the rest of the class and offered the opportunity to partake in a higher level of study which would introduce them to the advantages of using numbers and provide direction in their choice of future careers. Technology is forever evolving and computer science programing demands clever and creative minds to keep it running on a fast track. Selecting the best of the bunch, whether from public or private educational institutions and providing them with intensive mathematical education will ensure a constant supply of future scientists and high tech entrepreneurs.
However, besides these mathematical ‘geniuses’ whose initiative and creativity can be directed towards national security, aerodynamics and other obscure industries, there are students with more than average smarts that should be given the opportunity to use their higher mathematical abilities in areas involving finance, accounting, actuary, banking and more. These areas have taken on major roles today and none of us can avoid them while living an active modern life. The world has shrunk and we are all part of international monetary intrigue. Online banking and investments draw us closer together on a daily basis and understanding the inner workings of these subjects makes us feel more in control and less distracted.
We invest our money on international markets from New York to Hong Kong, placing trades from the comforts of our homes and seeing the posted positions on our screens within seconds of execution. We order books, clothes, food and services with the click of a key. We speak to family and friends thousands of miles away on Skype and send our messages out to hundreds of readers through Facebook and other social media. Usually we don’t take a second to think how this is all happening. We just benefit from the technological computer capabilities.
Many of us who grew up without computers stand in awe of those wizzes who can sit down at the keyboard and come up with some high level mathematical algorithm in a matter of minutes. Or who can work out my tax refund without ever meeting me. These abilities are mind boggling and we need to attach more focus on those who have the talent and knowhow to create valuable scientific, medical and financial advances that will benefit mankind. Teachers should be given guidelines on how to discern outstanding math students and nurture their abilities as future innovators and visionaries. These potential math mavens stand at the center of our technical and financial future and we must nurture and coddle them as early as we can so as not to lose them.
Cina Coren is a contributing editor to Daily Forex and a freelance writer for several financial and educational publications.