Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Am I Going to Use This in My Life?

At the beginning of my unschooling year I decided to use an Algebra II DVD to meet my state's math requirements. Who knew that you could get so exhausted by one drudgerous math lesson! Today I "learned" how to use "fractional exponents". All the while I couldn't figure out how I was ever going to use this in my life.

Normally after I've completed a music lesson or researched something I want to learn, I feel energized by what I've accomplished; after this math lesson, I only feel exhausted and like I wasted a 1/2 hour of my life. Does anyone else see a problem with this? I don't know how school kids stand it doing monotonous, useless, draining paperwork day in and day out for hours at a time. I could barely handle a 1/2 hour of it... Thank God I'm an unschooler!


  1. Fractional exponents are used frequently in science. For example, they are used to relate wind speed to heat transfer rate (wind chill). However, I can understand your frustration at being required to learn about fractional exponents when you are not given any real world applications. That is the nature of compulsory schooling, as those who teach math or who make those instructional DVDs probably know so little about science that would not even be able to give you any real world applications.

  2. Brycen, I couldn't agree more! I write about this issue on my blog here "Keeping it real. Ideas for Schools, Educators, and Students" http://t.co/dQuWiIu

    I took Algebra, but I didn't learn it. I wanted to understand it's relevance or even why it existed. My teachers were annoyed with such questioning.

    If you ever do find a need for Algebra let me know what I'm missing. I've got along fine without it and I'm in my 40s.

  3. Hi Brycen! Yea... Algebra outside of a personal "context" really sucks. And like Lisa, you'll proably never use it and will get along fine without it. But keep a open mind about the subject - hard though that might be! My first Algebra class was a nightmare - and I WANTED to understand it. History was like that for me - a real nightmare (I actually had real nightmares!) even through college. Relevance? Anyway, around the age of 40 I picked up a copy of "Killer Angels" - big mistake. Wow - now I got history! It clicked - it had personal "context". And my passion for history has never stopped since! Relevance? At some point you'll be able to answer that. Math is like that too. I'm not sure how any teenager finds relevance in math - even if they are "good at it".

    You probably don't need math, so confront that "context". Can I recommend something? Pick up a copy of "Mathematics and the Physical World" by Morris Kline. Make it your "last" foray into math. It's easy reading (why can't all math teachers be like Morris Kline?) - and you'll know what it is that's not relevant!