12 reasons to choose math

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Norwegian-language article for the newspaper Aftenposten, called 11 reasons to chose math (11 grunner til å velge matte). I aimed the piece at parents who need to convince their teenagers that doing math in high school is smart, even if you don’t want to become an engineer or a math teacher. It was rather successful, as these things go, here in Norway: I had more feedback (all of it positive) than anything else I have written, have been invited by the Department of Education to plan strategies for getting more youngsters into the natural sciences, and the piece itself was on the top 10 list of most forwarded articles in this newspaper for three weeks running (I picture parents frantically forwarding this to MSN and Yahoo accounts.) I think one reason was that I actually said right out that if you learn math, you will, on average, make more money. Something you don’t say out loud to young people in a country as obsessively egalitarian as Norway.

So – I translated it, padded it out with an additional point (on math as creativity) by Jon Holtan, a mathematician, and it has now been republished in ACM Ubiquity as Why you should choose math in high school. For your forwarding pleasure – should you have a petulant teenager aiming for an education of the softer kind, sic this thing on him or her.

At least you tried.

Update March 28: In addition to having been blogged by Cory, the essay was briefly mentioned in New York Times online.

Update, much later: …and, eventually, quoted by Tom Friedman in the 2nd edition of The World is Flat.