For someone who didn't graduate with a STEM degree, how much math should one know?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by kylera, Nov 6, 2016.

  1. kylera macrumors 65816

    kylera

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  2. smallcoffee macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Not much really. I'd say statistics and probability are the most valuable for day-to-day life.
     
  3. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #3
    I agree. Statistics and a basic understanding of Algebra I think are very useful skills. Trigonometry and geometry, not so much.

    I always thought calculus was fun, but in terms of day to day use I'm not sure where you'd need to use it.

    I think one of the problems with math (and STEM in general)- either with the teacher or the individual studying is they try to teach/learn by simply practicing it rather than thoroughly understanding the mathmatical concepts and why they work.

    I went to school for Pharmacy. I took AP Chemistry in high school but my university made me retake it. I thought the college class was ridiculous when the first 3 weeks of the class were on decimal points and understanding measurements. But as we went along teaching from the most basic concepts to the most complex it really fostered a through understanding. My teacher also taught us past incorrect theories in chemistry only a few classes later be like "this is actually wrong... now you'll see why"- and then teach the now accepted theory.
     
  4. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #4
    Statistics in everyday life? When was the last time you needed to calculate a standard deviation or coefficient of correlation in an everyday life scenario?

    I would say that unless you need to know something in particular for your career or a hobby, algebra and geometry should be just about enough for people to get through most aspects of everyday life.
     
  5. JamesMike macrumors demi-god

    JamesMike

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    #5
  6. D.T. macrumors 604

    D.T.

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  7. Fzang macrumors 65816

    Fzang

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    #7
    Statistics and p-hacking are everywhere. You don't need it, but you also don't need to be an oenologist to enjoy a glass of wine.

    If everybody had a sliver of statistical knowledge though, we wouldn't be bombarded with pseudo-science everywhere we go.
     
  8. Gorms macrumors 6502

    Gorms

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    #8
    Depends what you need the maths for. I was always told growing up I needed to be good at maths to be able to be a coder. Well, it's twenty years later and with an absolutely rudimentary ability at maths, I'm a damn good coder. As long as you can read and write (not calculate) algebraic functions, you're dandy.
     
  9. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

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    #9
    Most people can get by fine with basic arithmetic. Learning more than you will use is fairly wasteful. As you'll just forget it.

    I was great at math. I wrecked the classes grading curve in Calculus. Forcing the professor to not use a grading curve. Now I can't really remember much of anything I even learned in Trig or Pre-Caculus. I've never had a use for anything beyond geometry and algebra. The only reason I have any use for geometry is because I enjoy carpentry. I suppose if I ever needed it. It would take much less time to brush up.

    Then again. What use was there in my life for having to analyze works by Shakespeare or 19th century poetry in high school. While one may not have use for nor remember the substance of what was learned. It likely helps expand the capabilities of the mind to analyze and comprehend problems which arise.
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #10
    Again, if that's your career, I get it - but the average person doesn't use or need to use those in their everyday life, probably ever.
     
  11. BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

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    #11
    I agree with the overall theme of the thread. The math knowledge that most kids (in the US) get by the time they're 14 is definitely enough for most people.

    I work in Mgmt Information Systems. I've always been good at math (I took a lot of it in college) and my work has always been fairly technical. However, I've never (in my 10 year career) had to do anything that requires more than a basic understanding of algebra.

    If I had my way, math would be an elective in high school (with the exception of Alegbra I). Kids who want to be engineers, mathematicians and the like could take probability, statistics or calculus and get college credit for it. Everyone else could take something more useful like a budgeting course or basic econ. Seems like a better use of resources to me.
     
  12. smallcoffee macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    No you definitely need statistics. "How likely" and "what percent" are probably two of the most common questions people ask. Although people won't necessarily be calculating p values or whatever, they will be developing heuristics to answer those questions. Having a firm grasp of statistics and probability will be invaluable to developing those heuristics. It'll allow you to avoid even mundane things like the gambler's fallacy, and help you better understand the world around you.
     
  13. 960design macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Doesn't it really depend on your career path?

    As already mentioned; solid understanding of Algebra will get you pretty far. You need a smidget of Geometry so that you don't make your kids tree house completely jacked up as well.

    PS. Calculus is easy Algebra. All those long theorems can be very simply done with calculus.
    PPS Yes, calculus is much more than just that ( for all those that wish to type much more than I ).
     

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  14. C DM macrumors Westmere

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    #14
    A good part of math education isn't even about the specific properties or theorems or calculations but about getting a good/better grasp on logic, procedural approaches, and overall objective methodologies all of which apply to many other aspects of life, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.
     
  15. BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

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    #15
    I guarantee you that the average American high school student isn't getting any of that out of Algebra I, let alone higher level math that comes after that.

    And even if they were, there are more direct, practical ways to teach kids logic, procedural approaches and objective methodologies than making them take intergrals and learn what a differential equation is.
     
  16. C DM macrumors Westmere

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    #16
    And that's certainly something that is rather sad as a good part of the rest of the world is certainly getting quite a bit of that.
     
  17. BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

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    #17
    I don't know. Many other countries do emphasize mathematics more, but to what end?

    I've worked with some great software engineers and analysts from India and Asia, but they weren't any better at their jobs than great US born/educated devs and analysts. I know that's anecdotal, but I don't think that the math education is any "better" in other countries when you look solely at exceptional students. They're going to excel no matter where they are as long as the opportunities/content are there.

    As for everyone else, you're not going to draw blood from a stone no matter how hard you try. A mediocre student who hates math is not going to become a mechanical engineer just because he was forced to sit in a calculus class his senior year. I suspect this is also true everywhere else in the world.

    Not saying that the US is doing everything right, actually the opposite. I think US K-12 ed is broken in several areas and needs some revolutionary change. I just don't think that change should look like force-feeding material that most won't use.
     
  18. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #18
    You're talking about probability. I'm talking about statistics. They aren't the same class, at least not as I took them. Probability is taught in algebra class. Statistics focuses on sampling, correlation, etc.
     
  19. smallcoffee macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    For engineers they are taught in different classes, but they build upon each other. Since every class I took involved the two, I lumped them together.
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #20
    I am also an engineer, and I studied business in graduate school at a different university. In neither program did we study probability in a statistics class, so again, perhaps that could explain the disconnect.
     

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