Teaching Colloquium: Doug Corey


Title: Handling the "When-will-I-ever-use-this?" question.


Abstract: I wrote an essay for my calculus students this fall about this question and got a great response from students. The point of the essay was to help students realize that it is a very hard question for teachers to answer because of the way we actually use knowledge. We are not very good at predicting the kind of knowledge that will be useful to us in the future, for various reasons. A different philosophy about acquiring and using knowledge is more helpful than the view that is often at the root of the when-will-I-ever-use-this question. I explore some of these reasons to better understand the paradox that if mathematics is so useful, why is it so hard to help students see how it is useful.

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