I can't believe I'm writing this :)
Other than my still held belief (here) that learning for the sake of learning is important, I've began wondering just how useful the high school math we teach is.
I have been working on a whole-year PBL approach to my Grade 8 math class. The basic premise is that students are given a scenario (you're an accountant, you make 60k, you're married) and then asked to perform a bunch of "everyday" tasks. Things like doing their taxes, making a budget, getting a mortgage, choosing the best items to buy at the grocery store, etc.
All of these tasks involve math, and all are what I would call "legitimate" tasks in that people actually DO have to make these decisions (no trains leaving stations, for example).
What I encountered, however, is how much our society has gotten AWAY from the math of these basic things.
When I started to have students work out how much tax they would be paying, it dawned on me that I never had to do those calculations because QuickTax did it for me, and better than I ever could.
When I set up the assignment to chose the best items at the grocery store, I remembered that all the work is already done because the store puts unit prices on everything already.
You get the idea.
So while I've created, in my opinion, an interesting program for the year and I think the students will enjoy it, I really haven't opened anyones eyes to the uses of math.
I enjoy math a lot, and I'm struggling to think about where I've used it. Granted, I've had to do rate and distance calculations on trips, or calculate basic equations when planning events, but that's all pretty straightforward. Perhaps it's because I KNOW how to do this stuff, but I struggle to think of daily math use.
So, other than knowing for the sake of knowing....how much math do we really use?