An essay from a math practitioner titled, "When Will I Ever Use This? An Essay for Students Who Have Ever Asked This Question in Math Class", considers the relevance of math being taught in classrooms today. As a math teacher of high school students I hear this questions often, so, I thought I would blog briefly about my response to this question after reading the essay.
Build your math knowledge capital-you never know when you will need it!
You never know what you will need to know in the future. Its important to acquire lots of knowledge of many math topics in preparing for a math related future job or profession. Moreover, the jobs of the future may not exist now such in the case of the internet when I entered college 20 years ago. Thank goodness I took a basic computer applications course in high school or I would have been lost my freshman year of college.
How and when you will use math depends on your experiences.
How and when we use math in the real world has evolved and will continue. Sometimes this usage is indirect. The more experiences you have acquired the easier it will be to recognize. Just because you cannot think of a use now does not mean something bigger is on the horizon.
As math educators we should remain knowledgeable of ways math is used in various professions but understand that sometimes these applications are challenging to convey to students. We don't have all of the answers however, we can point students in the right direction by knowing their interests and relating learning targets towards them when feasible.