“When am I ever going to use this?”
Well, I’ll tell you what I told them:
Education isn’t about learning practical skills for your future career — that’s what trade schools are for.
No, education (and math in particular) is about learning how to learn and learning how to figure things out.
And I suspect you WILL use algebra …
[this is an example I made up for a future art teacher]
Suppose the school’s art supplier sent you gallons of 20X concentrated paint and you needed to end up with 3 cups of reconstituted paint for your class.
Are you going to dilute the entire gallon of paint and end up with 20 gallons of yellow paint because you refuse to do math?
I don’t think so. You don’t have room to store that much paint and it would all dry out before you used it up. You can’t just throw away the extra because you have a limited budget.
No, you NEED math in order to do your job as an art teacher.
Math isn’t the enemy —
Math saves time, money, space, the environment, etc.
Math is actually the HERO, if you stop to think about it.
I know this was a really contrived example but there are lots of others I could think up, like resizing digital images to the same scale:
Chin up! Most of my students had a eureka moment when it all finally clicked.