When am I going to use maths in my life?

Posted on 28th Feb 2022 in School News, Switzerland, Mathematics

Alexander Bates, mathematics teacher at Beau Soleil, shares the benefits of learning maths and how these skills can be applied outside of school.

A constant question that maths teachers get asked throughout their career is how the mathematics that we learn in school is useful in life. I would love to say that knowing your trigonometric ratios and how to factorise an expression is something that you will use in everyday life, but if truth be told, I can’t say that. We could argue that this may be the case for many areas of a secondary school educational curriculum, but at Beau Soleil we think that learning things that are useful in day-to-day life is not the only purpose of education.

In mathematics, we have an opportunity to help pupils develop skills and techniques that are not as easily found in other subjects. And other subjects certainly have the same opportunity to develop skills that aren’t found in maths. An essential element of mathematics is problem solving, whether this be working out the solution to a simple arithmetic problem or finding the solution to a differential equation. And the point is that all of these elements make our brains have to think about things in different ways. Us Beau Soleil maths teachers think that it’s an extremely useful skill to have, no matter what career our graduating students will go into.

In teaching maths at Beau Soleil we encourage students to think carefully about what they know, how they can apply what they already know,  and what new knowledge they might be in the process of getting to know, to solve problems. Whether maths is a strong point for a particular student or whether it is a subject that a student finds particularly difficult, there is always something within the maths curriculum that will get students to engage their brain and think about how to solve problems. This is what we aim to achieve in our maths lessons.

Our more able mathematicians are able to take their problem solving skills and apply their knowledge to one of the Higher Level IB maths courses. They can even pit their mathematical wits against students from all over the world, by taking part in an international mathematics competition.

For other students, where maths is not their strong point, we maintain that having a good education in mathematics is an essential way to complement the range of academic disciplines that we offer at Beau Soleil. It is certainly an opportunity to get brains engaged in logical thinking, problem solving and being able to link together different ideas to come up with solutions. For us as a maths team, that is the essential part of what we do – encouraging students to think carefully and logically about how to solve problems is something of critical importance for the rest of their lives!

And so, whilst we may never need to know if the sine of an angle is the opposite or the adjacent divided by the hypotenuse (it’s the opposite just in case anyone is wondering!), the skills learnt in mathematics lessons will help our students to think in ways that will be useful in their everyday life.