Have you ever wondered (or had your high schooler ask you) why you have to learn high school math? Why do
we care what x equals or if two triangles
While high school math often comes
across as meaningless, it doesn’t have to
come across that way! High school math
is anything but meaningless. It’s a way of
describing God’s creation in even more
depth than we can with basic math alone.
Letters in Math? (a.k.a.,
The letters in math problems are simply
placeholders for quantities. The letter
x could stand for the distance, gravity,
mass, force, total spent, or number of
soda cans on a shelf.
Why use letters to stand for quantities?
Well, creation is incredibly consistent.
If an item costs $5 and you buy four of
them, it will always cost you $20. There’s
a relationship between the total cost, the
cost of items, and the number of items
total cost = cost of each item x number
Likewise, the power flowing through
an outlet will always equal the voltage
times the current. There’s a relationship
between the power, voltage, and current
in an outlet.
power = voltage x current
Letters allow us to represent and work
with real-life relationships mathematic-
ally. For example, both of the relationships
above could be represented like this:
Look familiar? If you’ve taken algebra,
you’ve seen equations like y = ax many
times. Know, though, that those appar-
ently meaningless equations could be
representing a variety of real-life rela-
tionships—that y could be a place holder
for the total cost, the power in an outlet,
or a number of other real-life quantities.
Representing relationships mathem-
atically proves incredibly useful. For
example, electricians need to figure out
if they can install another outlet without
tripping a circuit breaker. By knowing
the mathematical relationship between
the power, voltage, and current, along
with additional information, they can
determine if an additional outlet will
overload the circuit. Or in order to know
what size circuit a microwave needs, an
electrician might need to find the cur-
rent when he knows the power and volt-
age. He can use math to find this.
Much of algebra focuses on rules re-
garding rearranging equations because
by rearranging and working with equa-
tions, we can find information about
real-life problems we couldn’t otherwise.
Stop for a minute, and marvel at what
we’re really doing with algebra. We are
describing real-life relationships using
letters, working with them on paper, and
then applying what we find in real life.
Why can we do that? Because creation is
consistent. And why is it so consistent?
Because a faithful, consistent God created and is governing all things! Our very
ability to work with real-life relationships
Homeschooling High School
by Katherine Loop
What’s the Purpose of
High School Math?
While high school math often comes across as meaningless,
it doesn’t have to come across that way!