The Use of Mathematics in Everyday Life

by Linda Emma

    Even those suffering from math-related anxieties or phobias cannot escape its everyday presence in their lives. From home to school to work and places in-between, math is everywhere. Whether using measurements in a recipe, or deciding if half a tank of gas will make the destination, we all use math. It is a good idea, therefore, for teachers and parents of reluctant math learners to use real world examples to ignite a spark of practical interest.

    At Home

    Some people aren't even out of bed before encountering math. Setting an alarm and hitting snooze, they may quickly need to calculate the new time they will arise. Or they might step on a bathroom scale and decide that they’ll skip those extra calories at lunch. People on medication need to understand different dosages, whether in grams or milliliters. Recipes call for ounces and cups and teaspoons --all measurements, all math. And decorators need to know that the dimensions of their furnishings and rugs will match the area of their rooms.

    In Travel

    Travelers often consider their miles-per-gallon when fueling up for daily trips, but they might need to calculate anew when faced with obstructionist detours and consider the cost in miles, time and money. Air travelers need to know departure times and arrival schedules. They also need to know the weight of their luggage unless they want to risk some hefty baggage surcharges. Once on board, they might enjoy some common aviation-related math such as speed, altitude and flying time.

    At School and Work

    Students can’t avoid math -- most take it every day. However, even in history and English classes they may need to know a little math. Whether looking at time expanses of decades, centuries or eras or calculating how they’ll bring that B in English to an A, they’ll need some basic math skills. Jobs in business and finance may require sophisticated knowledge of how to read profit and earning statements or how to decipher graph analyses. However, even hourly earners will need to know if their working hours times their rate of pay accurately reflects their paychecks.

    At the Store

    Whether buying coffee or a car, basic principles of math are in play. Purchasing decisions require some understanding of budgets and the cost and affordability of items from groceries to houses. Short-term decisions may mean only needing to know cash-at-hand, but bigger purchases may require knowledge of interest rates and amortization charts. Finding a mortgage may be much different than choosing a place to have lunch, but they both cost money and require math.

    Pastimes

    Even off-time can be math time. Baseball fans know a lot about statistics, whether they’re considering basic win-loss ratios, batting averages or pitchers' earned-run-averages. Football fans know about yardage gains and passing stats. And individual athletes, whether runners, bikers, sailors or hikers, often have their own ways of charting their progress, from time to mileage to elevation.

    About the Author

    Linda Emma is an author and writer with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as an instructor and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. Emma also serves as copywriter and promotion consultant to private clients. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.

    Photo Credits

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