“Real Life” and Math: a stream of consciousness.

I got to thinking the other day. When we become teenagers our parents start telling us about how we can’t just lounge around all day in “real life” or that saying a certain thing would get you fired from your job in the “real world”. But what is that?
Are they trying to say that our life with our parents is not real, that it’s fake? Some grand illusion sustained to keep us quiet until they toss us out on our butts to figure things out for ourselves?

Now I can’t stop thinking that once I move out of my parents’ place I’m going to wake up gasping in some special growth tube like that scene out of the Matrix. Dazed and confused, and more than a little wet behind the ears.

Then that got me thinking about high school. They teach us our basic science and make us read poetry and plays by people long dead (don’t get me wrong, english literature was one of my favourite subjects in my final year) and they make sure we run around enough to be too exhausted to pay any real attention to the next class. We go through history and memorize a bunch of dates and names that we’ll just forget a few days later, and then they make us learn a second language without any quality form of instruction so that if we were ever dropped in the middle of the country that language originates from the most we could say would be a basic introduction and clumsy small talk about the weather.

And then there’s math. We go through geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and (for either the very bright or terribly unfortunate) calculus. Imaginary numbers, balancing equations, how to find the angle of incline from your roof to your flagpole. Just once I’d like it if they taught us something that would actually be useful in our post secondary lives like balancing a check book, what sort of factors to consider when buying a car, and how the heck we’re supposed to do our taxes.I know in my math class we did go over something about living expenses if you got your job of choice and lived in such and such apartment and all that. Once. In grade 11.

Practical math, people, that’s all I ask for! At the very least teach us useful skills for when you throw us out in to this so-called “real world” and not end up buying cars and apartments we can’t afford and have to live on ramen and discount vegetable mixes until we’re thirty and FINALLY out of college (hopefully with a well-paying job lined up).¬†Because not everyone has access to helpful parents or knows what questions to ask at a public service location.

One final note: high schoolers, do yourselves a favour and get a talent. It doesn’t matter what sort it is, it doesn’t even have to be anything academic related (in fact, it’s probably better if it’s not), just find one and find out how you can make money off of it. The big thing with this generation seems to be entrepreneurs, and there are too many baby-boomers clogging up the regular job market right now for you to expect decent chances in the regular work force. Do what you love, and let the money get worked out after.

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