Math is vital to civilization. But it doesn’t follow that everyone should be made to study it.
Math is a ubiquitous requirement in school curriculums all over the world, even though most adults don’t know any math and are no worse for the wear. So what gives? Why do we require every child in the country to receive 10-13 years of instruction in math?
One reason seems to be that math is a natural fit for our data-obsessed society; math skills are easier to measure than other types of academic skills, and educators and policy makers can compare scores, compile data, make comparisons, and utilize it all for political ends. Another reason is just that, having signed kids up for compulsory education, we need to find something for them to do, and math fits the bill nicely: it takes lots and lots of time to get a classroom of diverse cognitive abilities on the same page and progressing together through sets of skills, plus all those numbers and equations look good on a blackboard, and there’s always more worksheets if you finish early. Presumably, math is also relevant to making a living, but that’s only true for a select few..