What is the point of Maths?

'If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics' - Galileo Galilei

As a teacher, I have heard the question 'What is the point of maths?' many, many times. It can sometimes be hard for students to understand the importance of studying maths when it can seem so abstract and pointless.

However, the modern world is completely reliant on complicated maths, which if it had not been studied beyond the most basic level, would have meant a world without computers, phones, internet, games, satellite navigation systems, credit and debit cards, digital music, automated checkouts, skyscrapers, cars, aeroplanes, space travel, modern medicine... the list goes on.

If it weren't for mathematicians, we would still be living in caves and hunting and gathering.

It may be that your students don't have lofty ambitions of heralding a new technological revolution with their mathematical discoveries. However, whatever path they choose, the following points from National Numeracy UK are certainly worth bearing in mind:

  • Adults with numeracy skills equivalent to GCSE levels A*-C earn on average 26% more than those with numeracy skills below this level
  • when controlling for education level, social class, parental interest in the child’s education and type of school attended, there is still a 10% earnings premium for numeracy
  • Those with poor numeracy are more likely to report having a long-standing illness, disability or depression
  • Women with poor numeracy skills report having a perceived lack of control over their lives
  • Men with poor numeracy skills are less likely to participate in a company pension scheme

Being competent in maths provides so many more opportunities for young people, as well as equipping them with important life skills such as being able to manage their own finances. So why not have some fun whilst battling with those beastly quadratic equations, and use Cactus Pi worksheets to reinforce those key skills that are so important in modern life?



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