A great article written by Mark Karadimos. The original can be found here.
What is math?
Those who do not appreciate math are those who do not understand what math is all about. That is why the nature of math desperately needs to be explained. Simply put, math is about solving problems.
How can math help me solve problems?
Ever since there were humans in existence, there have been problems to solve. Whether the problems were over basic requirements like sustaining sufficient amounts of food or major accomplishments like constructing multifunctional homes, problems such as these remain with us to this day. The peculiar thing about problems is that they all have similar properties.
What do all problems have in common?
Successful problem solvers are able to understand what is expected of the problems they face. In other words, they know all of the details surrounding the problem at hand, which is the most important step to solving problems. It requires an attention to detail and therefore patience. After examining the details, intelligent choices need to be made as well as the beginning steps of developing a strategy. The plan must be carried out in an order that makes sense. So careful planning, possibly by justifiable experimentation, must take place. Once an actual solution is obtained, it must be tested to determine whether or not it is reasonable.
What does problem solving have to do with math in school?
Every math problem that gets discussed, handled, and assigned forces us to use many, if not all, of the detailed methods of problem solving. Each individual problem becomes a small but important lesson for solving problems in general. Math is traditionally learned by first doing many smaller problems. Then the small problems are put together to solve bigger problems. For instance, in order to solve algebraic equations, being knowledgeable about addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is a must. Ordering the steps to be carried out, evaluating expressions, and learning how and when equations are used must be learned, too.
Who commonly uses math?
Everybody uses math whether they realize it or not. Shoppers use math to calculate change, tax, and sales prices. Cooks use math to modify the amount a recipe will make. Vacationers use math to find time of arrivals and departures to plan their trips. Even homeowners use math to determine the cost of materials when doing projects.
Which professions use math?