Why Math? Stay on top of today’s world

This post is part 3 of a series on reasons people give for why we need to improve math education.  The first part of the series is here, where I beg you all to think about why we do what we do.  The rest of the parts are:

  1. Learning math gets you a better job
  2. We need more people trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in order to compete in today’s world
  3. People need better math skills just to stay afloat in today’s world
  4. Learning math teaches you how to think
  5. Math is an art like music or painting; it makes us human
  6. Math is the ultimate form of Beauty and Truth

We are floating in a sea of numbers.

Not literally.  But when’s the last time you saw a number?  Well, according to the digital clock on my computer, it is currently 9:59 on 6/13/2017.  While I was coming home today, the speed limit was 70 mph.  At work, I work on the first floor of building #6, while the rest of the company works on the fourth and sixth floors of building #14.

It gets better.  Go read the news.  I go to my news site and see that one particular candidate for a public office just won an election 55.9% to 44.1%, with 99% of the vote counting locations reporting.  The article includes a handy map which allows you to see how the election results turned out in each county.  Lots more numbers, and these ones definitely changed the world.

Oh, but there is so much more.  On a pretty good hunch, I went to the health section of the news.  I was not surprised to almost instantly discover an article which claimed a relationship between a mother’s health and the health of the child (no, I’m not giving details; they’re off topic), citing a study saying that if a mother had/did (something) during pregnancy, then the child would have a 44% higher chance of having (an unusual outcome).  I have no idea if the study is correct or not, but there they are:  more numbers!  And important ones, at that.  If people believe those numbers, it will affect an awful lot of children going forward.

And on and on and on.

There are numbers at the office and numbers at the store,

numbers in the news and oh! so many more!

There are labels on my cereal and bills in the mail,

warning me that to pay, I simply must not fail.

30 percent extra!  50 percent off!

How much really is it, that extra stroganoff?

Taxes and studies and numbers obscene,

I can’t help but wonder, what’s it all mean?

Nowadays, we all really need numerical fluency.  Number still aren’t as common as words, but they sure do pack a punch.