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Do American Teenagers Recognise the Value of Maths?

Teenager studying
Teenagers and Math

Christina Sng for Maths@Singapore

The New York Times takes a poll and the resounding response from students who love math and those who hate math is yes, they do.

This quote from the article sums it up: 


“Of course math helps us balance checkbooks and work up budgets, they said, but it also helps us learn how to follow a formula, appreciate music, draw, shoot three-pointers and even skateboard. 

It gives us different perspectives, helps us organize our chaotic thoughts, makes us more creative, and shows us how to think rationally.”

Here are two wonderful quotes from students:

“Just stop and consider your hobbies and pastimes … all of it needs math.”

Math is timing, it’s logic, it’s precision, it’s structure, and it’s the way most of the physical world works. 

I love math — especially algebra and geometry — as it all follows a formula, and if you set it up just right, you can create almost anything you want in at least two different ways. 

Just stop and consider your hobbies and pastimes. You could be into skateboarding, basketball, or skiing. You could be like me, and sit at home for hours on end grinding out solves on a Rubik’s cube. Or you could be into sketching. Did you know that a proper drawing of the human face places the eyes exactly halfway down from the top of the head? All of it needs math. 

Author Alec Wilkinson, when sharing his high school doubting view on mathematics, laments “If I had understood how deeply mathematics is embedded in the world …” You can’t draw a face without proportions. You can’t stop with your skis at just any angle. You can’t get three points without shooting at least 22 feet away from the basket, and get this: you can’t even ride a skateboard if you can’t create four congruent wheels to put on it.

— Marshall, Union High School, Vancouver, WA

“I see now that math not only works through logic but also creativity.”

A story that will never finish resembling the universe constantly expanding, this is what math is. 

I detest math, but I love a never-ending tale of mystery and suspense. If we were to see math as an adventure it would make it more enjoyable. I have often had a closed mindset on math, however, viewing it from this perspective, I find it much more appealing. 

Teachers urge students to try on math and though it seems daunting and useless, once you get to higher math it is still important. I see now that math not only works through logic but also creativity and as the author emphasizes, it is “a fundamental part of the world’s design.” 

This view on math will help students succeed and have a more open mindset toward math. How is this never-ending story of suspense going to affect YOU?

— Audrey, Vancouver, WA union high school

For more quotes, visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/10/learning/what-students-are-saying-about-the-value-of-math.html

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash 

https://unsplash.com/photos/AZrBFoXP_3I

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