Every teacher has heard the question: “When am I going to use this in real life?” Although not all math topics seem relevant to everyday tasks, math skill will impact every aspect of someone’s life. It could be something simple, like buying groceries on a budget, or something complex like investing or buying a home. Without math skills, some of these things will be a struggle, and others will be downright impossible. So this begs the question: what happens if someone doesn’t have math skills?
The first consequence is obvious: if you don’t know math, it will be much harder to handle money. Knowing how to create a budget, stay within that budget, or save money will be impossible without basic math skills.
Budgeting uses basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, along with calculating percentages. Without math skills, it is hard to create a budget, and even harder to create one that works.
Not being competent with money means people will have less opportunity to participate in the economy, and would be left out of other activities that might mean a brighter future for them.
The second consequence is a little harder to predict. Math is a very logical subject, and people who are skilled in math tend to do very well in law, because they can follow a logical course of events. Without math skill, people are less likely to make logical decisions, and more likely to make poor ones. This also means that it will be harder to predict cause and effect in a new situation.
Being able to identify the difference between two numbers helps to identify cause and effect. Knowing the starting number, ending number, and the difference helps to learn the idea of cause and effect. “If this number is added, then here is our result.” Not understanding this concept of “if this, then that” can lead to unexpected consequences in life.
Poor numeracy, or knowledge of numbers and math, is related to higher risks of illness, unemployment, and incarceration, just like poor literacy is. Having very little knowledge of math means that success and job options will be limited, which will limit income. Math skill will open up more opportunities for your child, and make sure that they are able to follow the best path possible.
In a world without math, we could expect teachers who are unable to grade their students’ work, constantly failing businesses, and a collapsed economy. People would not be paid fairly for their work, and it would be very difficult to follow a logical sequence of thoughts.1