If you’ve ever asked the question “When will I ever use this?” in math class, math might not be your thing. But a life without math is harder to come by then you might think. So when your kids try to avoid taking the next level of math, or downplay the need to get more than a passing grade, you know you have to keep them on track, especially as they start to plan for college and careers. We’ve got proof that math really is everywhere, including these careers that require a surprising amount of math knowledge.
Fashion and Art
Your teenager says: “But, mom, I want to be a fashion designer, I don’t need math!” Oh, really? The College Board (the folks behind the SAT) advises would-be designers to take math classes because without knowing basic measurements, geometry (to design pleasing patterns) and proportions, is critical to creating wearable clothing. Designers also need to figure out what the market is for her designs, and what to charge for them, so being able to read a sales table and make financial projections will be a key to success.
If your son or daughter has a talent for art, tell them that even painters need to know their numbers. Selling art in a gallery means negotiating a price for it and figuring out what the return will be, since galleries tend to take a big percentage of the sale. If they want to sell art on their own, they need to set themselves up as a business and buy or rent gallery space, which means calculating expenses and income. And tell your child they’ll need to know how to measure frames for their finished pieces and how to display them: it’s not enough to just hang them on the wall, they’ll have to figure out the best way to light them, which requires some knowledge of angles.
If CSI is one of your child’s favorite TV shows, make sure he or she knows that being a police officer, detective or federal agent requires classes like accounting and statistics. Math classes sharpen problem-solving skills, which are key to doing police work well. Forensics work means becoming a whiz at chemistry and being able to analyze DNA, blood and other evidence. Firefighters, too, need to know chemistry to understand the types of hazardous materials they’ll encounter on the job, and math for things like calculating water pressure and distance.
Sportscasting and Journalism
Your son or daughter might dream of announcing their favorite sports team for TV or radio. But they might not know how much math goes in to being a good sportscaster. It’s not enough to be able to read and understand complex sports statistics; sportscasters have to be able to interpret the numbers to support their commentary. When a record is on the way to being broken in baseball, for instance, sports reporters need to be able to project, based on the players stats, when fans might see that record-breaking home run. In journalism, business writing means reading sales charts and earnings reports—and looking for numbers discrepancies, as in the recent mortgage and lending crisis. Even the police beat requires computation skills, as reporters crunch numbers to tell readers the latest crime statistics.
Math for Daily Living
Math is just as important for your child’s future career as it is in their daily life as an adult. Math courses sharpen the mind, honing those critical thinking and logic skills. And if it’s not enough to convince them that they’ll need it for their future career or to calculate expenses and balance bank accounts, tell them this: They’ll never figure out who owes how to split the pizza delivery bill if they don’t know math.