Solve for x. Y?

At a young age I was told in school that learning mathematics was important. Why?

Because when I grow up I will go to a grocery store with $35 in my pocket and knowing basic addition well help ensure that I don’t put more food on the conveyor belt at check-out #4 than I can afford.


I will have 9 watermelons and 6 people to feed and must know how much each person should receive.

Fair enough.

I was too young to question why the money was loose in my pocket and not in a wallet. Did someone steal my wallet? Is that why I didn’t have a debit card on me? Better question, why is my grocery budget $35?

I was also too young to question why I had 9 watermelons in the first place. Was there a sale? Why wouldn’t I just buy 10? And who are these people I’m buying food for? I only have $35 to spend.

None of that mattered.

What mattered was I liked math; I was good at it. Perhaps the multiplication table attached to the patio door of my house gave me an advantage. Either way, I didn’t find the subject too difficult.

Then they introduced shapes. 3 sides to a triangle. 4 sides to a square. 5 sides to a pentagon – which is the shape of every house I’ve ever drawn in my life. 6 sides to a hexagon. 8 sides to an octagon – because octo is like octopus, which has 8 arms. Awesome.

Fast forward a few years and letters are introduced. Hold on, all these years I was lead to believe that the letters of the alphabet were for spelling words.

b + i + k + e = bike — Is this how words are made? A math equation?

No, not even close. Letters in equations represented unknown figures. Well isn’t that fantastic. We’re now playing fill in the blanks with numbers.

It was The Price is Right meets Wheel of Fortune.

I’ve been out of high school for half a decade (wow), and not once have I looked back to think about what I learned in math class for those four years and how it is relevant to me today.

Math always felt like a topic we were learning without purpose, and I mean that in the nicest way. Beyond a certain grade, they stopped telling us why it was important for us to learn what they were teaching.

Were they subliminally trying to make us all architects? If so, I understand.

Were they subliminally trying to make us all painters? I would understand this as well. Proper placement of a ladder away from a wall and number of paint cans is of utmost importance. I’m serious.

Grade 11 math was my worst mark in high school. In fact, it’s the worst mark I ever received for a class at any level.

I got a 57%. I started out the semester at 57%. Slowly got up to a respectable 63%. Then slowly dipped back down to 57%. I guess if I’m analyzing these numbers, I’d say I made no progress.

It was really unfortunate. I used to love math. Grade 9 and 10 weren’t that bad. It’s amazing how failure can make you hate something.

There was no way of not taking math. It was mandatory…until grade 12. Just when I thought I could go to school without a calculator, I realized I needed to take a math class in order to apply to some universities. Lucky me.  Needless to say those programs got knocked down on my list of desirable career paths.

I took Data Management because it would satisfy the requirement. Also, the word “calculus” makes me nervous. I’m not sure why. The word “physics” also makes me nervous. Great, now I’m sweating.

I never had to take math in university. Well, I had to take two finance classes but they were for sport management students – the professor was not trying to make us architects, or painters.

Now here is the part of this post where I satisfy the people on the other side of my argument, as to not offend anyone and to acknowledge that my thoughts, shockingly, don’t reflect the thoughts of 6 billion people. I do this too much, really.

If you love math, great. If you earn money by applying the things you learned in high school and beyond, more power to ya! Also, I don’t mean to suggest that architects and painters are the only ones applying their math knowledge. I’m also not trying to offend anyone, especially teachers.

There, was that good enough?

I just can’t say that I use 90% of the math I learned in school in my every day life. I don’t solve for x. I don’t draw parabolas in my spare time. I don’t balance equations. I don’t…I better stop, this is making me nauseous.

A part of me wishes there was a math class in high school specifically geared towards managing a bank account, investments, loans, leases…etc. But when would we ever need that knowledge in real life, right? Let’s add and subtract integers instead.

I majored in sport management at university. Most of the subjects I learned in high school did not help with that program.

But that’s alright.

I knew how to solve for x and go grocery shopping on a tight budget. I was set.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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