The article given below is in the form of “Question-and-Answer”. It is being published in order to shed some light on some misunderstandings among many high-school students about mathematics. Actually, in our everyday life, mathematics is used everywhere, every time and every occasion. In other words, every problem we face in our lifetime requires certain mathematical skills to reach a solution. We cannot experience any part of our daily life without involving mathematics or mathematical skills. We hope this article will help students see mathematics from different perspectives and broaden their appreciation of it.
What is this article about?
Every subject contains information necessary to become a knowledgeable and functional member of society. As we become more technologically dependent, technical reasoning is needed for survival. Mathematics is no longer just a subject taken by the elite. Now it has rightfully become a staple in our educational systems even though it is not appreciated by many people until it is needed. This article is intended to help students become open to learning math by understanding what math is all about.
What is math?
Those who do not appreciate math do not understand what math is all about. That is why the nature of math desperately needs to be explained. Simply put, math is about solving problems.
How can math help me solve problems?
Ever since humans existed, there have been problems to solve. Whether the problems were over basic requirements like sustaining sufficient amounts of food or major accomplishments like constructing multifunctional homes, problems such as these remain with us to this day. The peculiar thing about problems is that they all have similar properties.
What do all problems have in common?
Successful problem solvers are able to understand what is expected of the problems they face. In other words, they know all of the details surrounding the problem at hand, which is the most important step to solving problems. It requires attention to detail and therefore patience. After examining the details, intelligent choices need to be made as well as the beginning steps towards developing a strategy. The plan must be carried out in an order that makes sense. So careful planning, possibly by justifiable experimentation, must take place. Once an actual solution is obtained, it must be tested to determine whether or not it is reasonable.
What does problem solving have to do with math in school?
Every math problem forces us to use many, if not all, of the detailed methods of problem solving. Each individual problem becomes a small but important lesson for solving problems in general. Math is traditionally learned by first doing many smaller problems. Then the small problems are put together to solve bigger problems. For instance, in order to solve algebraic equations, being knowledgeable about addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is a must. Ordering the steps to be carried out, evaluating expressions, and learning how and when equations are used must be learned, too. Who commonly uses math? Everybody uses math whether they realize it or not. Shoppers use math to calculate profit, loss, change, tax, and sales prices. Cooks use math to modify the amount a recipe will make. Vacationers use math to find time of arrivals and departures to plan their trips. Banks use math to calculate interest. Even homeowners use math to determine the cost of materials when doing projects. (to be continued in the next issue).
Prepared by: A.Kasim Akhmedov Mathematics Teacher