What do doctors, lawyers and even designers have in common? For one, they are among teens’ most popular career choices. They also require a significant understanding of math at work every day. Despite this, many teens are certainly not determined to take advanced math lessons to help them get ready for success in these upcoming jobs.
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A telephone survey of 1,000 12- to 17-year-olds commissioned by Texas Instruments revealed that four out of five teens believe math is very important for achieving their goals of being doctors, scientists, executives and lawyers, but only half are intending to take advanced math courses beyond their schools’ minimal requirements.
The study revealed 80% of teens want to pursue careers in medicine, sports, science, education, business, military, law or architecture-many of which need advanced college degrees along with significant focus on mathematics and science.
&Ldquo;Parents need to understand how important it is that they encourage their children to take higher-level courses of math while in high school,” says David Mammano, founder and publisher of Next Step Magazine, which provides career advice to more than 860,000 teens. &Ldquo;The disconnect between teens’ career aspirations and their plans to take minimal math classes could lead to students not being prepared for college-level classes or landing the job they want in the future.&Rdquo;
&Ldquo;No matter what career teens choose, a strong math education is critical because it builds analytical and reasoning skills. Students need to take challenging math courses every year in high school,” Mammano said.
He recommends parents to work with their teenagers starting in middle school to plan out their course schedules. Parents can seek out resources to help teenagers understand the value of math and plan for their careers, such as MomsForMath.Org, NextStepMagazine.Com or Career Voyages.Gov.
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More tips from Mammano include:
Make Math Enjoyable. Tie math into the things that already curiosity teens-their hobbies, TV or movies. A great place to start is Texas Instruments’ “We All Use Math Every Day™” program that teaches math lessons based on plots featured in the hit CBS TV show “NUMB3RS.&Rdquo; The free classroom activities are available at www. Cbs.Com/numb3rs.
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Provide Encouragement. Challenge teenagers to take more difficult upper-level math courses even though they might not make straight A’s. Mother and father can make a difference simply by applauding teenagers for the effort it takes to participate in those classes. Reinforcing everyday use of math at home, while shopping, budgeting, baking or gardening can also help increase students’ interest in math.
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Get Involved. Get teenagers involved with school or even community programs such as science fairs or math team competitions that stimulate them intellectually and hone their analytical skills.
Identify Career Role Models. Discover local professionals and inquire about mentorship chances that match teens’ career interests. Teenagers can “shadow” an executive on the job to see what kind of knowledge is needed for that field.
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Set The Example. They might not want you to know it, but teens look to their parents as role models. Let your teens see that you are interested in math and show them how you use it each day-at home and in your job. Acknowledge that your teen’s proficiency in math may exceed yours and that is a good thing. Also be aware that they are learning more math in different ways and this often involves the use of technology or teaching tools that might be unfamiliar to you. Talk with your teen’s teachers to raised understand these new advancements in math teaching. They’d likely welcome the interest.
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