Building Critical Thinking Skills with Math

Essay by aaron766University, Bachelor's August 2009

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Upon a persons' first interaction with higher forms of math, such as algebra, one's initial reaction would most likely be in some way wondering or even complaining how such mathematics could ever be used in 'the real world.' Beyond the rudimentary math skills of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division most persons would see little to no use for greater planes of math in their daily lives. Because of this style of thinking a great reluctance bordering on fear for higher order math exists in the minds of a large number of the population. However, one very valid and useful skill can be gained through the learning process by which we gain an understanding of algebra, and is a trait we can find use for in many occasions in life, the critical thinking process.

A columnist for by the name of D. Peterson wrote of the experiences of a woman named Sarah Clark in her attempts to learn algebra.

She was a non-traditional student and as such, she was just beginning an introduction to algebra at the age of thirty-two. The article describes the student declaring that she had never had any event in her life in which it was needed to have an understanding of algebra in all her years in which a person would normally have learned algebra in a traditional school up to her own age. She basically called math teachers, or anyone who said that such math is needed in daily life, liars. Yet, however good or valid Sarah's points are, there was something very crucial to her story that she either was ignorant of, or neglected to mention, and one that the author of the column picked up right away, that of how algebra is a path toward learning critical thinking. Peterson brings up a...