From time to time I share interesting quotes that I’ve found. This one comes from John McHugh, Dean Lincoln Campus of Gaston College in Dallas, North Carolina.
“I tell students that I only use about five percent of the material that I teach[in math classes]. However, I do use 100 percent of what I learned in math class on a daily basis – problem solving, attention to detail, local thinking, abstract reasoning, critical thinking, good communication, ability to learn quickly and recall accurately, ability to follow directions, stick-to-it-ness, reasoning, and better decision-making skills, to name a few. Math is the most efficient way that I have of finding out to what extent a student possesses these skills and helping improve these skills in a safe and friendly environment.”
McHugh, John. “Why Study Math?” NISOD Innovation Abstracts 34.14 20 April 2012: p. 2.
I think those are all skills which the world need more people to possess. I think it is also a rather telling statement about the difference between teaching content versus thought processes. Although content is important, teaching students how to think is just as important and is not always getting the attention that it is due. My high school Calculus teacher, Mr. Barry, always said that a math class you didn’t take was shutting a door to the future. Sadly math classes at the University of Iowa didn’t mesh well with the scheduling of history and education classes that were my majors, so I had to drop them after freshman year, but I’m always sorry I didn’t pursue it further.