whether languages or mathematics will be most important in the jobs of tomorrow.


In the movie Mean Girls, Damien “too gay to function” asks Cady:
“You’re taking twelfth-grade calculus? Ew, why?”
Cady says: “I like math because it’s the same in every country”
Is math the future, or are languages? Right now, STEM careers for girls are getting a lot of attention. Do you need to take more math classes? What if you, to think, “ew”? Would languages hold the key to your future? Here are some things to consider when you’re making your class schedule, planning your AP courses, or selecting your college major.

Why math?

Choose math because it will make you smarter. No, really. math courses are to learning what endurance training is to sports. If you play volleyball, you run laps. If you cheer, you run laps. If you pole vault, you run laps. see where I’m going? You build a strong foundation so that you can excel and perform in your specialized sport. a strong mathematical foundation isn’t just your ability to solve the algebra problem in front of you – it’s the logical thinking it teaches you. It’s not the geometry – it’s critical thinking, and that’s something that every career needs to a degree.
Chose math to make you more money (or lose less money). You’ll have an easier time at university, you’ll be able to select from a broader range of careers, and you’ll gain life skills. That critical thinking? Apply it to things like buying a car, investing in real estate or stocks, and even deciding whether to be a Multi-Level-marketing rep (think Younique or LuLaRoe). Pro tip? Don’t pick the MLM. Honing your skills in math will teach you to get to the root of a problem quickly, whether it’s a technical skill or an issue between people at work. Being able to separate the pieces and put them together logically, using basic rules, can help you with budgeting, choosing the best place to live, and determining when to purchase and how much to spend when making a large buying decision, like a house.
Choose math because it opens doors in an increasingly global world. Remember Cady? She was right that math is the same in every language. When you’re competing with teens from India, China, or Nigeria for STEM jobs, the requirements for all of you will be the same – a firm grasp of mathematical principles that can cross any border. Consider how marketable your degree and your skill set will be. math rewards patient and persistent learning – if you don’t grasp it at first, going over the rules repeatedly will help you hone your skills. Math is constant and consistent.

Why Languages?

Choose language – despite English and Spanish (the two languages native to the U.S.) being the most common second languages learned, there are still billions of people that won’t be learning English, and will be speaking in their native dialects. Access to higher education – specifically second and third language studies – is still limited in the majority of the world. Americans might be exporting culture everywhere, but if there’s no one to explain it to a non-native speaker, then globalization (the future) stalls out.
Choose languages, because we don’t know which languages will dominate the future. That depends on your purpose and field. Brazil, Russia, India, China are usually perceived as the world’s biggest emerging economies, as well as more niche growth markets that are included in lists produced by investment bank Goldman Sachs and services firm Ernst & Young. Some languages that could be a safe bet are Chinese, which although not frequently used in science and math, is still widely spoken. Spanish, which doesn’t have the number of native speakers China does, is extremely popular around the world as a second language and could be a “bridge” between two non-native speakers. French, which experienced a decline in popularity – is actually dominant in West Africa, which could become the next developing area of the world.
Choose languages, because you can understand culture, art, and people through the way they express themselves. Math may be the most helpful to build a society, but the language and the way we describe our world makes it worth living in.

written by Chris Clayton on Sept 21st 2017

photo by Anne van der Stel from unsplash.com

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