The recent controversy over teaching common core math has revived the discussion of math as it relates to other subjects. There is no denying the foundational role of mathematics in education. By its very nature, math begins with fixed principles and empirical data upon which fields based on quantity, structure, space, and change can be applied. It is the most elemental of school topics, and its comprehension does strengthen learning in other subjects. Let’s examine ways that proficiency in math can enhance performance in other disciplines:
Earth science and beyond
Physical science requires mathematical precision when calculating weight, measuring an area, measuring volume, and graphing results. Chemistry relies on calibrating exact quantities of ingredients in order to obtain a result. Physics and astronomy rely heavily on mathematical foundations to explain the world around us and why it works. The study of science in general heavily relies upon knowledge of basic mathematical concepts. A student would be hard pressed to make any progress in science without a firm grasp on the mathematical principles behind it.
Mathematics, when taught properly, can develop problem solving skills in students. Rather than rote memorization, or presentations that are detached from their everyday experiences, common core math, focuses on establishing the principles upon which math are founded and then building to higher functions from there. Understanding the logical principles upon which math is founded helps students develop a disciplined mind that can more easily grasp the logical organization of the world around them, allowing for more reasoned decision-making. By underscoring the connection between mathematical equations and problem solving, the student can make the short leap to applying logic in other subjects.
Rhythm is all around us. Whether in music, dance, or the recitation of poetry, there is an inescapable, pervasive meter in most performance arts. The measurement of rhythm in verse is fundamental to learning prose. Music and dance require the ability to count and divide rhythmic segments into complex structures. This basic application of math can bolster skills needed in artistic expressions.
Graphs, stats and charts
Skills acquired in math are often called upon when learning social studies or social sciences. Historical data contains charts and statistics about land elevation, ethnic groups, life spans, and a number of other facts which are presented in numerical format in order to understand patterns or change. The firm understanding of math allows students to more fully comprehend the implications of statistics and facts in geography, sociology, archeology, etc.
We are all Picasso
Geometry often plays a starring role in art class. Basic geometric shapes and formulas provide students with the necessary tools for crafting artistic works. Whether used innately or cognitively, geometry is a friend to both the fledgling artist and the professional craftsman. Simple artistic principles like perspective, shading, etc. are all based on mathematical properties. Knowledge of how math principles apply will help young artists to make their art more realistic and visually appealing.
As previously stated, common core training in math is relevant today because of recent proposals aimed at making American students better prepared and more competitive after graduation. There is no question that this review merits consideration because mathematics is not an isolated branch of knowledge. It provides the fundamentals to help students learn how to learn.
Samantha Stainsburry is a freelance blogger from Charlottesville, VA. She’s a major history buff, and loves living in Thomas Jefferson’s hometown. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and finding new music among other things. Her personal ambition is beat to Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy record with her vast trivia knowledge.