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Posted on August 16 at 9:59 a.m.
I can honestly say that I haven't diagramed a sentence since middle school. Nor have I analyzed the use of color in text. I haven't considered the g-forces exerted on my body while on a roller coaster nor have I given an iota's thought to the digestive systems of bugs. I haven't thought about what caused the civil war or about reconstruction. I could't tell you if Antietam happened before or after Harpers Ferry.
These are all things I had to study / do in school. I'm sure they served some purpose, but as my adult life and career aren't dependent on them, I no longer recall what purpose that knowledge served, how to perform the work, or even what it was that I was supposed to remember. Finding my keys is a much more important daily task in my adult life than considering the geo-political implications of the Marshall Plan.
When we teach children we're supposed to give them the foundational skills they need to do whatever it is they want with their lives, knowing full well that they will neither use nor recall much of it.
You may never factor a polynomial again after completing Algebra, much less remember what factoring a polynomial is, but the kid sitting next to you might do it all day long. I may no longer be able to tell you the difference between an adjective and an adverb or remember what a dangling participle is, but the kid sitting next to me who writes technical manuals may. I have zero interest in the digestive systems of fruit flies and the mere memory of touching millipedes is enough to turn my stomach 30+ years later, but my neighbor the entomologist gets all jazzed up about that.
We teach our children lots of stuff that will be utterly useless to them as adults. Haiku, anyone? Why is Math any different from any other subject?
If we don't teach our children the math they need to be scientists, engineers, architects, or designers, how can we expect any of our children to ever be scientists, engineers, architects, or designers?
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