Before going into the discussion of why Mathematics is important, there is a need to understand the definition of the term. According to dictionary, Mathematics is the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, abstractions, measurement and transformation. In simpler term, Mathematics is the study of the numbers, quantities, shapes and space by using mathematical processes, rules and symbols.
Although I have never had a deep research into this field, but I first known about the history of Mathematics was during the first class of “Teaching Mathematics to the Students”. I have learnt that Mathematics existed even during ancient time and it is still being used widely in the 21st century. Thus, it implies the usefulness and the importance of Mathematics in life.
Mathematics is one of the core subjects aligned with Science and Language Art, in the process of teaching and learning and is being taught in schools around the world. Students have the rights to know about the purposes of learning Mathematics. If I were a teacher, I would like to tell my students about its importance during daily lesson. For example, if I am teaching a particular topic, I will relate it to the real life situation in order for students to realize that what they are learning are useful and applicable in their life and future career. Thus, they would be more interested in learning because anything which related to self would arouse their interest effectively.
In my opinion, Mathematics is important because it exists in everything in our life. First and foremost, we learn about money in Mathematics such as the ringgit and the sen. It is essential as we use money regularly to buy things that we need and we desire to get such as food and drinks, clothes and handbags. When we are buying something, we need to calculate how much money we have with us and how much we can spend on it. Other than that, while waiting for the cashier to give back the change, we can use the mental strategy which is doing the calculation in our mind without saying it out or writing it down ,and count how much will we get back as the change. That is when Mathematics comes in to help us in order to be a wiser consumer as we would not be cheated. For instance, I have experienced once in which the cashier gave me back the wrong change when I was buying a fruit juice, luckily I have calculated how much should I get back from her beforehand and managed to tell her the exact amount she should return. Since then, again I realized the importance of Mathematics in our daily life , even through a simple buying and selling. In order to let the students to have a better understanding, for example they can be given a chance to role play as a seller and a buyer, then simulate the situation where they have to buy drinks and the seller has to find the change for the buyer. This can actually reinforce their prior knowledge and enable them to apply their knowledge into practice.
Besides that, Mathematics helps when we are out in other countries as different currencies are used. For instance, as to convert Malaysia Ringgit into Singapore Dollar, we have to use multiplication according to the current rate in order to get the right amount of money. With Mathematics, we are able to convert the prices in foreign currency correctly when we see some souvenirs , food and clothes, thus can make decision whether or not they are worth to buy. From my personal experience, I saw my favorite novel in Thailand in which the price was 395 baht, as I converted and calculated how much it costs in Malaysia, I can clearly know that it was way much cheaper in Thailand, thus I bought it immediately. This indicates that Mathematics is useful even when we are outside the country. I will ask the students to imagine that they are going for a vacation in South Korea, and they will have RM 1,000 with them, by giving them the rate of the currency, they are able to convert it by themselves with scaffolding when necessary and realized the importance of Mathematics outside the border of school.
In addition, Mathematics contributes to our daily life as we have taught of the concept of date and time. These two elements are interrelated as everyday is represented by a specific date and 24 hours. Date and time have crucial role in our life as we live with the presence of both of them. As students, we need to know the deadline of our assignments so that we are able to count how much days left from the day given and manage our time efficiently in order to complete the task. For instance, a project is given to me on the 21st of February 2015, and the due date is on 1st March 2015, which implies that I have 9 days to complete my assignment. With that information, I can work on it according to my pace. Also, knowing the date allows us to keep track of some important events by setting reminder in the calendar. Another example would be, we need time to organize our daily activity, we could not live without looking at the time, no matter we want to wake up, to have meals or to study and work. For example, we need to grasp the concept of 24-hour format and different time zones. We use mathematics to find out the time by subtraction, for instance, 1300 in 24-hour format is actually 1 o’clock by subtracting 12. Other than that, we have different time zones in different countries. For example, Malaysia follows GMT+8 whereas the United Kingdom follows GMT+0, which means that Malaysia is 8 hours ahead from the UK. By telling the students how to interpret the time in different formats, they will be able to save time and use it wisely every now and then.
Moreover, Mathematics plays an important role in healthy lifestyle nowadays. It has became a trend across the globe as most of the people in 21st Century are pursuing healthy lifestyle such as the concerns about their calories intake per meal and body mass index( BMI) . For instance, I used to be very strict toward my calories intake, I counted how much calories I have consumed per meal. In order to calculate accurately, I have to convert the energy units from calorie to kilocalorie, for example, 1 calories equals to 0.001 kilocalories. Therefore, Mathematics takes place in calculating the calories intake. Also, BMI is important for us to determine our overall fitness and the risk of developing chronic diseases. As the equation shown above, that is how BMI is counted by dividing the mass by height. Again, we need Mathematics for the calculation. According to Humanism, students would be intrinsically motivated to learn if the content is related to students themselves. Thus, if students are asked to calculate their own BMI, they then take the responsibility of their own health and it will remind them of the importance of Mathematics in daily life at the same time.
Last but not least, Mathematics contributes to other careers such as doctors and engineers. Although not all the doctors have to use Mathematics as frequent as engineers do, but they do use complex mathematical equations in order to administer treatment correctly. For example, doctors use mathematics in making decision on the medicine prescriptions and dosages. They use basic arithmetic to calculate what dosage of a particular drug would be appropriate for the patients based on their height and body type. On the other hand, engineers require Mathematics all the time in order to solve equations. For example, engineers get to know the strength of the materials such as iron and steel by Mathematics. Also, Geometry and Coordination are used in the topic of robotics. Therefore, the foundation of Mathematics is essential and crucial for the further education or future career. Other than the examples as pointed out, I will assign students into groups and let them discuss about the importance use of Mathematics in the field of architecture and medicine. It elicits critical thinking in students and they will look things from different perspectives by given this learning activities. With that, students construct their own knowledge and they will have a better connection between prior knowledge and new knowledge.
In a nutshell, Mathematics is undeniably crucial for everyone. However, students should be told about the importance of Mathematics so that they can relate it to their own. Giving all the examples in real life situation when teaching about a particular topics in Mathematics enhance teaching and learning process and the learning outcomes would be achieved effectively. I am surprised that I have never thought of the importance of Mathematics, but as I listed out all the points, I could clearly understand why there is a need to learn this particular subject. To conclude it all, it is significant that students are not only learning about the content, but they are also learning to adapt in life itself.