Mathematics provides an effective way to develop mental discipline and encourages logical reasoning and mental rigor. In addition, mathematical knowledge plays a crucial role in understanding the contents of other school subjects, such as science, social studies and even music and art. You can expect a mathematical equation to have a predictable outcome, and precise steps must be taken to achieve that result. The mental discipline that children develop in math class can be passed on to daily life.

Companies know this, as some companies hire mathematics students based on the assumption that students who are good at mathematics have learned to think. Mathematics can also provide a vehicle through which critical thinking skills are put into practice and honed. An example of mathematical critical thinking is when students are required to explain how they arrived at a solution to a complex problem or to describe the ideas behind a formula or procedure. Studies have shown that students who are better at mathematics have more gray matter in the brain.

Practicing and learning mathematics develops your ability to think critically and reason. It sharpens your mind and applies to all aspects of your daily life. Studying mathematics allows you to better understand the world. This seems obvious, but knowing the nuances behind how mathematics works can open your eyes and help you see the world around you in a new way.

For example, Einstein's theory or relativity (what we perceive as the force of gravity, in fact, arises from the curvature of space and time; and objects such as the sun and the Earth change this geometry) is fundamental to improving our understanding of the universe. Math students learn pattern finding and logical thinking. These skills can be used in every job that exists. Employers know that not all employees will come with subject matter expertise, but they do expect people to be able to think critically and learn quickly.

Mathematics education develops these same skills. Large entities, such as corporations and governments, rely on people with excellent mathematical skills to calculate salaries, expenses and make projections about the future. Potentially none of us will come close to Alan Turing's mathematical and problem-solving genius — Turing is credited with being the father of modern computing; he cracked the Nazi Enigma code, among many other important mathematical advancements — but there is no doubt that he is more proficient in mathematics and seriously studying it can improve your problem-solving skills. A solid understanding of mathematics will intuitively lead you to the idea that you need to have clear definitions and hypotheses for the things you want to understand and explain.

Whether ordering a meal at a restaurant, buying something packaged in the store, or cooking at home, there is mathematics involved. Even for relatively simple jobs such as specialized trades, there is a great dependence on mathematical reasoning. However, students who are not interested in these careers must have advanced mathematical skills, as they must graduate with a bachelor's degree in any field. I could help them with their math homework, but it would be up to them to really take an interest in their mathematics education if they want to perform well on the exams.

They need more practical and hard-working learning to arouse their curiosity and enjoyment of learning. The real challenge is getting high school students to see how learning to solve mathematical problems will have some effect on their daily lives. In fact, mathematics is unique in that you not only need to have the right result, but also to demonstrate the robustness of the process you used to arrive at that result. There is some debate about how much mathematics actually describes the universe and a mathematical “theory of everything” is still elusive.

While none of my former students have become a mathematician, they all understand the importance of mathematics and (I think) have a deep respect for the power of numbers.