Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pascal's Wager

I was thinking this morning (as that SO beats actually working) and remembering back when I was in high school decades and decades and eons ago. How I would never have challenged the teacher "when am I ever going to use this?" because that question seemed so irrelevant.

And I got to thinking about Pascal's wager. (OK there was a link in there someplace).

I would love to say to the kids that their belief is a lot like that. They believe that there is no reason to learn anything that does not have some relevance to them. (Or exciting entertainment value.) I contend that there is a reason to learn all of this - even conics and logarithms. One reason, it is the foundation for the college level senior math course, if they intend to go to anything but a community college.

If I am wrong, and they will never ever use anything I am trying to teach them - what have they wasted? A couple of hours of dissecting the social mores of a high school they may never think about once they leave.

If I am right, and they will need what I am trying to teach (you do see me repeat TRYING because I am not succeeding), they have lost the opportunity to use this year productively. Will they survive - sure. They will have to hustle next year or in college to recoup, but they can do that. It just means more work at a time they may not have the time. Or the money.

Gotta love it.

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