St. Lucy's Priory High School

Opinion: All high school math should prepare students for the real world

Sitting in a high school math class, utterly befuddled by the concept of graphing a useless polynomial, the students begin to riot, challenging the teacher with the seemingly unanswerable question, “When are we ever going to use this in real life?”

A typical scene, this students-verses-teacher conflict unfolds almost daily in an American classroom over the lie that is math class.

High school math curriculum is ultimately flawed, as basic “survival” math skills prove to be just as necessary as the prescribed textbook lessons, yet these concepts are not encompassed in a typical math course. Aiming to teach students the process of learning, an equal amount of time should be dedicated to teaching practical applications of mathematics in conjunction with “normal” concepts as taught to date in a typical classroom.

Make no mistake, though, order of operations, conversions, and measurements, as learned prior to high school are certainly applicable in daily life, but that is the extent of most math beyond tests or quizzes. In this way, the American education system fails to prepare its students for the challenge of real life.

Real life encompasses the struggles of budgeting, calculating interest rates, or investing in a house; challenges that America’s teens are not prepared to face.

Evidently, high school math classes work to challenge students to recognize learning and problem solving as a process, which are  essential skills  required upon entering the majority of the workforce, but even further necessary concepts remain untaught.

A typical high school graduate lacks the essential knowledge to pay bills, manage savings, and implement a budget, but is fully capable of success when it comes to filling in meaningless answers on a test. Taught for the purpose of distributing tests and receiving scores, a person’s ability to, for instance, graph a parabola, is in no way connected to success in the workforce.

Obviously ill- equipped to handle math in its practical implements, it is no surprise that many parents are burdened with the financial responsibility of their children well into their own adult years. Without the incorporation of a basic money management course in the high school math curriculum, students will continue to remain ignorant and incompetent in the real life applications and necessities of mathematics, through no fault of their own.

Supposedly arming students with the tools they need for future success, education intends to unlock the door to a brighter future for all. Nevertheless, school systems no doubt continue to miss the mark in the area of mathematics, which demands an immediate shift toward the coexistence of “survival” math skills and typical textbook lessons in all high school curriculum.

–Katelyn Ray