What’s the point of maths?

It’s a beautiful Spring afternoon.
The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and you’re stuck inside a stuffy classroom, being forced to memorise the quadratic formula. All of the sudden, a question strikes your bored mind. The same question a thousand students have asked before you:

What is the point of maths?

We have all wondered about this question. I know I did.

Many students ask their teachers, and often get an unsatisfying reply. “Maths is important”, some say, rarely explaining why. “You need it for your taxes”, partially true, but mostly false. Or my personal favourite: “You just do”. 

These reasons all suck. But there are good reasons to study maths. Three of them, in fact.

1.
Maths is the best tool humans have to describe the world around us.

Put simply, maths works! Planes fly, buildings stand tall, and social networks connect. All of these things were designed and built using mathematics. Maths lets us work stuff out. It helps us understand the world, which means we can make useful things.

2.
Maths is the most useful skill taught in school today.

Technology is changing faster and faster. Machines are learning better every year.

Soon there will be two types of people: People who tell computers what to do, or people who are told what to do by computers.

Millions of people, from Uber drivers to Amazon employees, already have a computer as their boss. In a world of increasing change, the biggest opportunities will go to those who understand technology instead of fearing it. And to understand technology, you need to understand maths.

3.
Learning maths teaches you how to think.

Other subjects teach you facts which you can easily Google, but maths teaches you methods for solving problems.

A good maths education teaches you general problem solving. You learn how to work out what you want to know from the information you already know. A problems-based maths education doesn’t just force you to hack exams. It gives you skills which apply beyond the classroom.

Ned & Tom help their students understand maths. 

We base our teaching on real problems, not some formula book. We use these problems to teach our students how to think for themselves. Our students go on to study at the best universities, and are in prime position to take advantage of technology, instead of having technology take advantage of them. And they never have to memorise the quadratic formula.


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