I’m reblogging this everyday.
Perfect! I needed a good reason to rant this morning! And, even if this isn’t a good reason, it’s still a reason that doesn’t involve me screaming at the top of my lungs when I should be teaching….So….win.
When I was taking Algebra I definitely had the “When am I ever going to use this?” thought, just like everyone else who isn’t naturally good with numbers. And I expressed this frustration to my father who said, “Math isn’t about adding, it’s about learning to problem solve.”
Frankly, that didn’t make me any happier. When I was in second grade I couldn’t get into the gifted program because I refused to solve problems that didn’t come easily to me. Problem solving isn’t any more my strong suit than numbers are.
When I was in 11th grade my math teacher told me not to take Calc because I didn’t have an aptitude for math. She was right and I was relieved to hear that I had a good reason to abandon the subject my senior year.
But now that I’m very nearly a certified teacher, this attitude makes me angry. First of all, I had the misconception that many kids have that if I’m not good at something I shouldn’t have to do it. Today I still want to fall back on that way of thinking because I’m tired and easily frustrated. But that attitude has never served me nor, I suspect, anyone else.
The bigger thing that bothers me, though, stems from teaching, rather than being a student. I was never arrogant enough to point blank ask my teachers when I was going to use their subject in my daily life, but I have had students who have asked me. And then, shockingly, they did not want to hear the answer.
I teach English and you will use it literally every day of your life. No, I don’t mean that in the sense that you will be forced to read road signs every day or that you’ll need to know how to spell well enough to fill out forms at the hospital.
What I mean is that, in reading we learn to empathize with people and in writing we learn to express ourselves well enough for others to empathize with us.
No one really understands my depression until they read a particular short story I wrote when I was at one of my lowest points. Conversely, I don’t know what it is like to be young and in love except for what I have felt through Romeo and Juliet and A Walk to Remember and the like.
When you’ve read and written enough to get a handle on that empathy, you start to see it everywhere. You can look at a movie or television show and understand the characters from a human perspective and it becomes harder to write them off as fake. Then, you find that you have a harder time writing off people, even those you don’t know and see on the news and, let’s be honest, somewhat categorize as fictional in your mind, as something less than human.
Wouldn’t the world be a nice place if we had a hard time imagining that people weren’t people?
So, no, I don’t know how I use algebra in my daily life. I imagine that I frequently have to isolate variables so I can figure out how to solve problems. But, even if I’m wrong, I refuse to be so arrogant that I can’t see the possibility.
(Source: amandaonwriting, via jonsnowmageddon)