Yes, You Learned Math You’ll Never Use After High School. Here’s Why. — Brandon J. Adams

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.

You’re welcome.

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 blackboard smartboard 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.

 

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO WITH MENTORING?

Mentor.  Life coach.  Guide.

All these, and more, are terms we hear in our culture today reflecting the need for persons to come alongside younger, more inexperienced, people so that they can be taught and encouraged to persevere in their chosen endeavors.

According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach.  The term comes from literature of ancient Greece.  In The Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus had an infant son when he went to war, and he was gone 20 years.  During that time, his son, Telemachus, was supervised and taught by an old and trusted friend named Mentor.  Thus, today, we use the word mentor to describe anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another, usually younger, person’s life.

 

Mentoring is discussed in Scripture as a way of life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Titus chapter 2, Paul is advising the church about personal relationships within the church, i.e., mentoring:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5.

 

In thinking about what mentoring is, I realized that there is much more to it than meets the eye.  Yes, there certainly is an aspect of teaching to it, but there is also gentle guidance, attentive listening, and there is attention to the example that I am setting for others.  Indeed, mentoring is more “watch me and do as I do” not just “do what I tell you to do”.

 

So, what are some of the things that we can teach others?  Here are a few ideas.  I am confident that there are a host of other things, so please give some additional ideas for those who read this post.

At the office (C)
At the office working on the keyboard, just like you do, Dad!

 

The value of mental exercise and work.  When there is a puzzle about something, work it out … stay with it and keep thinking about it until you come up with a solution.  If there truly is no solution, then identify the way around the roadblock so that you can continue on toward the goal that you have set.

 

JDD playing keyboard
Making music and feeling happy with the sounds!

The value of music and of expressing yourself in ways other than speech.  Let music speak to you if you are emotionally drained, and let music reflect your feelings when you are elated!

 

Evans Day 041
Investigate and ruminate on what you see!

The value of being inquisitive and of exploring the world around us.  Think about something new every day.

 

Go cart with grandpa
Grandfather and grandson having fun together on the go-cart track!

 

The value of play.  Take time to do something fun and if you can share the fun with others, that is even better.  Also, take time to be alone and play, read, take part in some hobby, think about your goals and aspirations, learn who you are in the solitude of quiet time.

 

The value of relationships within the family.  Cherish the older generation and listen to the stories they can share about the relatives who no longer are with us, and about you when you were young!

 

graduation from kindergarten
Kindergarten graduation emphasizes the importance of learning and of doing well in school.

The value of an education.   College is not for everyone, but learning most definitely is!  Never stop learning and always cherish the opportunity to enlarge your mind without losing your focus!  Keep up on the news.  Read fiction for fun and non-fiction for fun and to expand your outlook and perspective.  Study and learn daily, even if you are not “in school” – there are always lessons to be learned if we keep our spirits attentive!

 

 

Garden - Monticello
The vegetable garden at Monticello, Virginia. Beautiful and well maintained, and thus it is productive!

 

Plant something, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot.  Watch God work in His nature as they grow and bloom, providing food and beauty for you.  [But, don’t forget to water it! J ]

 

The value of setting a goal and working hard to reach it.  Once you have identified the goal, then go after it, even if it is a tough climb!

 

Falling off
Falling off the rock, with the risk managed by the rope!

The value of taking risks, while being responsible in how you do it.  Be prepared to fail, but try to minimize the damage if failure does occur.   And, remember that failure does not have to be permanent, unless you let it define who you are; it might just be a setback from God which is designed to redirect your focus to get you on the path that He has ordained for you.

 

Cannon at Jamestown
One of the cannons on the battlefield at Jamestown, Virginia.

The value of restraining your anger and providing a peaceful resolution to difficulties.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 14:29

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11

 

Bible
The Holy Bible, God’s Word to us for our edification, training and instruction in righteousness.

The value of honoring the Word of God.  Read God’s Word every day, think about it and learn it.  Study it and learn it so that it is not just in your head but also in your heart.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

A child once told his father that he knew what the Bible was:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

 

Church with steeple
Church with steeple stands as a reminder throughout the week that worship occurs here. “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” I Chronicles 16:29.

 

The value of sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Invite others to church with you.  Take your children to Sunday School and church and attend with them, don’t just drop them off for a free babysitter!  We cannot give anyone else salvation; that is a work of God through the Holy Spirit.  But, we can testify to others about who Jesus Christ is and about our relationship with Him as our Savior.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:8-11.

 

Mentoring – a Scriptural activity that is worth our time and attention.

 

Father, I pray that you would lead me as I contemplate mentoring.  I read your Word that this should be done, and I pray that you would guide me as I reach out and seek to honor your Word.  Forgive me when I have ignored your prompting to do this in the past, and give me strength and wisdom to move forward in Your strength through the Holy Spirit, for Your honor and glory alone.