Math is the most useful thing taught in public schools, along with basic language skills.
Although, I will admit, I don't understand the focus on Algebra. Geometry is far more useful in the real world, but it often isn't required.
Way back in the 1800s when I was in school...
Algebra/Trig/Calc = interesting puzzles.
Statistics/Analysis = the fucking devil.
You should just think of every number as a dick. I'm sure you love to multiply dicks all day long.
I hated math in junior high, then I had one teacher that somehow flipped the switch for me and I got it, finally, after years of failing the subject. Suddenly I became a math tutor to other kids and got straight A's. Then they put me in geometry, I missed 3 days of class due to being sick and came back fucking lost and failed. In college I again did great in math, helped other kids and got straight A's. Then I took accounting, thinking well I am good in math I should rock this. Yeah, not so much. It is hard to retrain your brain to left and right. But your right, there isn't much use for math in adulthood unless your figuring out a sale or selling dope. Then fractions and percentages come in handy.
Also I think math is very important in everyday life, especially living in a democracy. Learning math as a kid gives one a better intuitive grasp of numbers as an adult. So when politicians start throwing around statistics it's easier to see which ones make sense and which ones are just loaded bullshit.
from this article:
('numeracy' is the word used to mean mathematical competence, akin to 'literacy' in reading and writing).
The relentless quantification of society continues unabated. The tendency to reduce complex information to a few numbers is overwhelming--in health care, in social policy, in political analysis, in education. ... Although the widespread availability of data should enrich public discourse, inevitable over-simplifications and misinterpretations may ultimately cheapen it. ... Instead of enhancing Jeffersonian democracy, limited numeracy can easily shift the balance to a technocracy.
Innumeracy hurts in other ways as well. For example, public policy issues may increasingly move beyond the intellectual grasp of citizens who lack appropriate skills in quantitative reasoning. Innumeracy encourages the view that all opinions are equally valid, that whenever there is disagreement the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Innumeracy thus becomes another means of disenfranchisement: by reinforcing the idea that truth is relative and unknowable, people with the least defenses against charlatans will be most vulnerable.
I substitute teach every once in a while. I think a major problem is that the more math aptitude you have, the harder it is to teach or explain. For relatively simple math, I rarely use any sort of process...I just look at it an the answer is obvious. It's like saying "what color is this?"
But then, when I'm trying to explain it to someone, it's frustrating to walk them through it. It gets even weirder with very young kids...it's impossible for me to explain to a 6 year old why 2 + 2 is not 22.
I understand people's frustrations with higher math functions, but for basic functions, percentages, ect...it's just hard-wired into my brain and I'm baffled by people who aren't built the same way.
I also like math as a subject because it's absolute. If I'm wrong, it's because I'm wrong. I used to go nuts in Lit classes, where the grading is subjective. If I experience a piece of art differently than the teacher, that shouldn't make me "wrong" when it comes to an essay test.
<steps on soapbox>
One of the big problems with our public education system is that pretty much ANY teacher can eventually get tenured, whether or not they are any good at teaching.
If I wasn't a good System Engineer, I'd have been laid off in one of the many rounds of layoffs we've had over the years.
That is a problem.
to say that those things mathematics describes exist the same regardles of language and culture is true, but it's not a very consequential statement. a lot of things exist independent of us.
At the end of the day, 2 + 2 = 4 only means anything if you first have an agreed understand of what "2," "+," "=," and "4" means. The operations may be, theoretically, truths (at least in as far as we've been able to determine in this subjective perception of the world), but those operations have no meaning without a common base of terminology. Other languages are just vastly more complicated with a greater degree of nuance and variation.
At the most basic level, math, like everything else, is still dependent on the degree to which humans can accurately perceive existence around them.