# What type of maths would be considered "useful" maths?

Announcements
#1
Many students, at some point, will have wondered why maths is so important. When would pythagoras' theorem be used in a real life setting (aside from GCSE examination)?

Do we really need to know anything beyond basic arithemtic?

Moreover, what type of maths would be considered "useful" maths? The 3 types most are familair with include pure, mechanics and statistics. Which of these is the most useful, if any, and why?

For those of you who went on to study a non maths specialist course, do you think maths served you well? And those who do/did study a maths specialist course, do you think the maths you learned at GCSE/A Level was useful?

More curriculum conversations like this
This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Last edited by spectrum84; 1 month ago
2
1 month ago
#2
I think it's further than "pure, mechanics and statistics".

Most key stage 3 (year 7-9) school curriculums look at the broad topics of: Number; Shape, Space & Measure; Algebra; Handling Data.
Personally I find algebra to play a part in the shaping of logical thought processes, but I'm guessing that opinion may not be a popular one.
2
1 month ago
#3
Personally I've used Trigonometry when calculating the best angle to put speakers at such that they hit right side of the right places of a specific chair. To improve sound quality and movie/video experiences.

I also use statistics regularly, and feel this is a tad underrepresented in the normal Maths A-level. An example is using binomial distribution to calculate reasonable expected numbers of attempts to get items in games. Reasonable is subjective, but annoyingly so is hypothesis testing, with the arbitrary "significance levels".

There are also plenty of other examples where maths is useful in daily life, if you just look for them and keep an open mind, you're bound to find them.

(Original post by 04MR17)
I think it's further than "pure, mechanics and statistics".

Most key stage 3 (year 7-9) school curriculums look at the broad topics of: Number; Shape, Space & Measure; Algebra; Handling Data.
Personally I find algebra to play a part in the shaping of logical thought processes, but I'm guessing that opinion may not be a popular one.
I agree with the algebra comment!
0
1 month ago
#4
We had a surveyor come in a few weeks ago to measure our roof for solar panels and I quickly noticed they were using Pythagoras' theorem a lot.
1
1 month ago
#5
The main reason why learning maths past KS3 is so important is not so that students can find an angle in a triangle or know how to draw a probability tree, its so that students can build their logical, reasoning an problem solving skills that are useful skills for so many careers. There's a reason why employers value a good grade in A Level maths so much even for jobs that don't directly require any maths.

Sometimes I feel that teachers try too hard to relate maths to "real life" while sacrificing difficulty. Solving an algebra problem without real life context is just as important as solving a compound interest problem. It's so common to hear adults say things like "maths at school should just be useful things like tax and mortgages". These are obviously important and I would be in favour of more life skills taught in school possibly as a separate subject. But I think the maths curriculum is fine as it is and shouldn't be made easier.
2
1 month ago
#6
(Original post by spectrum84)
Many students, at some point, will have wondered why maths is so important. When would pythagoras' theorem be used in a real life setting (aside from GCSE examination)?

Do we really need to know anything beyond basic arithemtic?

Moreover, what type of maths would be considered "useful" maths? The 3 types most are familair with include pure, mechanics and statistics. Which of these is the most useful, if any, and why?

For those of you who went on to study a non maths specialist course, do you think maths served you well? And those who do/did study a maths specialist course, do you think the maths you learned at GCSE/A Level was useful?

More curriculum conversations like this
This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Personally, I think everybody uses lots of maths quite a lot in their everyday life. They might just not notice it or might be unable to translate it to "academic maths" (aka people who severely suck at algebra questions can answer them if you give them a real life example like with fruits etc.) One thing I know a lot of people do that is purely mathematics but nobody actually realises it is cutting corners (literally). Say you're walking up the the road and you need to take a turn onto another road that is perpendicular-ish. A lot of people will cut through the lawn because it's shorter. And how do we know it's shorter? We can imagine the paths as a triangle. The sum of any two sides must be greater than the third. Aka cutting through the grass is always the shortest route (might not be quicker if you're angle-deep in mud after it rained).

Completely disregarding using maths for work, I'm a slut for excel spreadsheets of all sorts so there is always something going on in that area.

I think statistics is a truly overlooked and misunderstood part of maths. It can be very useful if used correctly but it's so easy to misrepresent the data making it misleading to the public. If more people tried to look at statistics in a little bit more depth we could avoid a lot of confusion and manipulation.

I think people actually enjoy "intuitive maths" (aka when they don't realise they're using it). Another example - Simple stats that people share everywhere like their average jog time or number of books they read in a month etc.

It's a beautiful and incredibly useful subject that is unnecessarily demonised. This strongly includes media portrayal. For example, I've excelled at maths most of my academic life, but I still remember being a little kiddo being told we'd be studying algebra and getting worried that I won't get it because on TV the teens always hate it (spoiler alert, algebra is epic).

As someone who did go onto study a maths related degree, I think the maths I did at GCSE (and BTEC because I opted for that instead of A-levels) gave me a solid foundation in both logical thinking and basic maths. Although I think the difference between level 2 maths vs level 3 maths is too steep (aka, don't burn my house down but I think higher tier GCSE maths should be harder).
1
1 month ago
#7
(Original post by KA_P)
We had a surveyor come in a few weeks ago to measure our roof for solar panels and I quickly noticed they were using Pythagoras' theorem a lot.
Wait what, wow that would of inspired me in maths a lot time ago.. that's incredible
2
1 month ago
#8
(Original post by spectrum84)
Many students, at some point, will have wondered why maths is so important. When would pythagoras' theorem be used in a real life setting (aside from GCSE examination)?

Do we really need to know anything beyond basic arithemtic?

Moreover, what type of maths would be considered "useful" maths? The 3 types most are familair with include pure, mechanics and statistics. Which of these is the most useful, if any, and why?

For those of you who went on to study a non maths specialist course, do you think maths served you well? And those who do/did study a maths specialist course, do you think the maths you learned at GCSE/A Level was useful?

More curriculum conversations like this
This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Maths that was really useful would be calculus ,integration and trigonometric functions in the pure section since these relate to real life scenarios such as calculating the rate of change of one variable compared to another and the fact that calculus is used in multiple courses such as economics, maths, engineering and many more! Trigonometric functions really help with studying the nature of waves and allow you to create an equation for different types of waves with trigonometric equations which is really useful for physics especially
0
1 month ago
#9
I guess if useful is defined as being able to answer the hard exam questions, then maybe Edexcel should cover Euclid more as Proposition 1
http://aleph0.clarku.edu/~djoyce/ele...kI/propI1.html
might have helped some kids with the last gcse question on paper 1.
Last edited by mqb2766; 1 month ago
2
1 month ago
#10
This is a difficult question. Some people might say that any maths is useful, because it develops problem-solving skills and logical thinking. Others might argue that only certain types of maths are truly useful, such as arithmetic or statistics. Ultimately, it depends on the individual and what they hope to achieve with their maths skills. If someone wants to become a mathematician or engineer, then they will need to study more complex topics like calculus and trigonometry. However, if someone is simply hoping to develop their numeracy skills for everyday life, then basic arithmetic may be all that is needed. In the end, it is up to the individual to decide what type of maths they consider to be "useful".
0
1 month ago
#11
When my brother is asked this by his students, he tells them that this is simply one way of exercising their brains.
Do I think the maths I studied at school was useful? I've been doing a physics course, so yes, very. Actually, I've never really touched most of the weird circle theorems, but they were still interesting.

But, to steal an argument from 3Blue1Brown, when am I ever going to "use" Frankenstein? or Harry Potter? or Macbeth? I'm not planning on resurrecting the dead, levitating myself or becoming the king of Scotland any time soon. But they're still worth reading just for the hell of it.
1
X

new posts
Back
to top
Latest

### Oops, nobody has postedin the last few hours.

Why not re-start the conversation?

see more

### Poll

Join the discussion

#### Y13s: How will you be receiving your A-level results?

In person (63)
68.48%
In the post (3)
3.26%
Text (13)
14.13%
Something else (tell us in the thread) (13)
14.13%