I follow Brandon J. Adams, and his most recent post reminded me, fondly, of physics in high school. My teacher, Mr. Townsend, was a patient man, whose Christian ethic was evidenced in how he taught our class. I was his problem child — not from a disruptive standpoint — I simply could not understand physics. I just did not grasp it. And, since I was going to be a nurse, I didn’t believe that it was anything that I would use in the real world. I passed the class, barely, only because I repeatedly stayed after school with him tutoring me, trying to figure the subject out, to only moderate success.
However, God had other ideas. Through a series of avenues, I ultimately found myself in law school, 11 years after graduating from college as an English teacher. I began working in a law firm where my clerking and then my practice centered on product liability litigation. In doing this work, I found myself dealing with experts in mechanical devices, learning how the differential on a vehicle worked, what a limited slip differential was, what the Delta-v of the accident was and why that mattered. In short, I was using physics in my defense of the product at issue.
Each time I used these concepts I envisioned Mr. Townsend, spinning in his grave, but smiling also, knowing that his work was not misguided! In short, God was even then teaching me what I would need to know later in life (much later in life, actually!).
This is rather the subject of Brandon’s post, and I pray that you would enjoy it and ponder how God prepares each of us for the work that He has planned for us to do. I find Brandon’s posts at brandonjadams.com. Please feel free to check out what he has to say here and on his site. I think you will find it enlightening and a wonderful blessing.
I see it all the time – some character on the internet asking why they were taught (fill in the blank algebra) they never used after high school instead of (fill in the blank practical math like budgeting or taxes or mortgage math).
Having served in the teaching profession, this question is really mine to answer. I now oblige.
Beyond the fact that many schools do offer alternative courses in such math (I’ve taught them)…
…or the fact that practical math is far easier for someone to self-teach, so we reserve algebra for professionals…
…or lines like “it’s about problem-solving” or “we could use more trade schools” or “because federal agencies are dictating our content #lessgovernment #murica”…
…the answer is simple.
You learned math you’ll never use after high school – because your teachers believe in you.
Contrary to popular opinion, teachers have no crystal ball revealing exactly what each student will grow up to be. We have no way of knowing a future environmental researcher or mechanical engineer from a future office receptionist or restaurant manager.
And since we don’t know, teachers labor to equip students for as many choices as possible. Perhaps for when that space exploration video smacks your eyeballs in junior year and launches your imagination into overdrive, or when you read about that ecological crisis brewing in the Solomons and suddenly feel driven to find solutions. Darned if teachers are about to bar you from those possibilities by not teaching the basics.
Students might think we should know. “Can’t you see the loser I am? Can’t you see I have no capacity for that great stuff?”
No. We don’t. That’s not our job. Teachers believe in every human that sits before them – even when they don’t believe in themselves. How can they do their jobs with any passion otherwise? We will not count you out, even when you count yourself out.
Even if you do become a stay-at-home mom, had you chosen a path of research at Cal Tech, you at least had the option. That is not a waste of your time. For you were not a waste of their time. You may not have understood the lesson then, but it gives you limitless options later.
You could say much the same of God – except he knows exactly where you’ll end up.
Perhaps you’re currently wondering, when on earth am I going to need these heartbreaking lessons I’m learning? Perhaps your current circumstances are stretching you to the breaking point, beyond what you thought you could bear. The fear and depression don’t lift. Money stays suffocatingly tight. The loneliness bears down like a fog. Month in and month out, year in and year out, no matter how many “things are about to change!” sermons you hear, nothing ever does.
Know that it is not in vain. Nothing on God’s
blackboardsmartboard is ever wasted.
Imagine being admitted to a NASA engineering internship only to find out you haven’t the slightest math skills. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
God is averting you from that fate. He loves you fiercely and is arranging the strength and knowledge, professionally taught, that you will need for your destiny. When it arrives, you will be ready.
2 thoughts on “Yes, You Learned Math You’ll Never Use After High School. Here’s Why. — Brandon J. Adams”
Thanks for the comment, Shelia. Yes, it seems as though the very things you thought you would never use are the ones that have been pivotal in your life story.
This is a good post. I use my high school math all the time for simple things like cooking. Sometimes I need to compute ratios. Also, knowing a little math, science, physics, etc. prevents you from appearing uneducated. I can talk with those engineers with a bit of understanding rather than deer-in-the-headlights look.