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Students Need Math for Career Success

Fast Forward filming in Dalton, GA
Fast Forward filming in Dalton, GA

During a teacher training session last month, we discussed the importance of cross-subject teaching and learning in classrooms, especially as it relates to math skills. That conversation included something we have all heard: Georgia needs a skilled work force. A participant made this excellent point: We keep hearing that. What does it actually mean?

Today’s news article on manufacturing jobs workers defines what is needed of a “skilled work force:” math skills. That includes the ability to do simple addition, subtraction or even multiplication and division quickly. One manufacturing worker, John Hoyt, says, "I'll write a few numbers down, mostly numbers with decimal points, because that's what we use in manufacturing, and have them add them or subtract them, or divide by two." However, job applicants often can't do the math. In manufacturing, being off by a fraction on your calculations can cause a crash.

“Math skills” also includes the ability to think critically to problem solve efficiently. That’s why we’ve seen a push from the White House and from our own Governor’s office for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

GPB has been working on Fast Forward, a series of videos demonstrating STEM careers in Georgia, meeting with Georgians working in those STEM careers and finding out what got them to those positions. When meeting some of those individuals, many of them declared their favorite subject was science. And, a few even said they didn’t especially enjoy math in school. But, applying that math to something they could see and effect with science made it fun – fun enough to make a good living at, in fact. The program is still in the development stage, which means a team is out traveling the state and filming right now. In fact, they just got back from a trip to Athens.

You can follow along and learn more about STEM careers in Georgia before the series airs, though, by reading the Fast Forward blog. Share what you learn with your students to motivate and encourage them in math studies that may get stressful, boring, or at least mundane from time to time. You may also take advantage of the Common Core push for cross-platform learning by using these blogs as writing prompts for middle and high school students.