Baan Dek

Math Always


Math jokes are pretty common. We make jokes about how bad we are at math, jokes about how useless geometry and algebra are, jokes about how math teachers told us we wouldn’t carry a calculator around in our pocket and now that’s exactly what we do.

The truth is, math is everywhere, math is all the time, math is daily life. If daily life involves more listening than reading, there’s a podcast, too, scroll to the bottom of this page or subscribe on iTunes.

We forget how frequently we use math. We use math always. Making dinner involves math, looking for a house number involves numeracy, the quick calculations we do without realizing all involve math.

Math tricks us into thinking it’s hard. We might not calculate the apex of a parabola, or be asked for a square root while walking down the street, but we take for granted how frequently, and how much, we use math.

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We’re using numeracy when we look for 15th street, not 51st street. This is a subtle nuance, but makes a big difference.

We calculate when we’re determining what time it will be when we fly to the other side of the world, given a time difference and travel time.

We’re using math when we compare prices at the grocery store, when we are building a shelf, when we manage or even tell time.

We think of math as flash cards and memorization, proofs and equations, homework and tests. Math is putting out four forks for for diners, volume in pouring from a larger pitcher to a smaller cup, baking and weighing out just 250 grams.

We can highlight math in everyday life for children, too. It’s 10:45, we have fifteen minutes until the doctor’s appointment. We need three pounds of potatoes to make this recipe, can you help me count them? Let’s look for the biggest number we can find on our walk today.

We don’t have to wait for a child to be ready for the work of math, in order to use math around them, just as we don’t wait for a child to be ready to read, before we read to them. Though they might not be ready to use this skill themselves, they can still see its importance and value, how we use it all the time, and we can spark curiosity and interest, so when they are ready, they’re eager.

Written by:

Charlotte Wood

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