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What’s the Point of Math?

NPR made me smile again. Stephen Strogatz was a guest for the game show “Ask Me Another.” Click on the link and you can listen to the entire show, or just scroll down and go straight to his segment (By the way, the show tells you how many degrees the Cornell professor is separated from Kevin Bacon!).

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Strogatz on the show says there are two types of people when it comes to math: those who say, “I don’t have a math head,” and those “I’m good with math but don’t know why I need to do it.” The response to the latter, the author of “The Joy of X” says, would be this (paraphrased): You watch Michael Jordan play basketball. You listen to music. You don’t need to do those things but you do because they enrich your life. Math is the same (if your degree/job doesn’t require math, that is). Yes, agreed. But teachers wouldn’t force me to watch Michael Jordan at school…

Math Blog readers, what are your responses to this question: What’s the point of doing math?

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11 Responses to What’s the Point of Math?

  1. George says:

    Hi, Awesome post!
    Mathematics is my favorite subject. People are scared of maths, but it is the most creative subject of all. For me, maths is the mind blowing subject. Without it, there would be no science

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  3. really great information dude, keep writing oke!! thank you guy

  4. Shah Alam says:

    I am interested in about when I am 13 years old. Now I am reading B.Sc(Hons) in mathematics. I want to know Where is math applicable.

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  8. really great information dude, keep writing oke!! thank you guy

  9. I agree, Sarah! How would your students respond if the same question was given to them? While some of them should respond cynically, “Meh, no point,” others might come up with good answers.

  10. Sarah says:

    What’s the point of doing math? Math improves your mind, forms new neural pathways, stretches your cognitive capabilities. We need more Einstein’s!

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