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Anything more than basic math is unnecessary for many college majors

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/14/2015 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,328 times Debate No: 76555
Debate Rounds (5)
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First person to accept this debate gets it.

I do not believe many, if not most, college majors should require anything above a basic math competency. Going into stuff like algebra, geometry, trig, etc., does not do any good for a history major, Art major, english major, or what I studied, Music business. It is a little too much and it even caused me to leave college for 3 years.

Con is going to have BOP and have to explain and defend his position


First off, I'd just like to thank kingcripple for suggesting this debate. It's one I really like the look of, and hope this will be a good argument.

A good understanding of maths can get you a lot further in the world than a good understanding in art. Pretty much every office job requires that you understand maths at a deep level. Art based jobs are relatively few in numbers. And although I haven't done research on this, I'm willing to bet that art doesn't help a lot towards maths majors. Fair enough if you want to go into music business, but again, maths is arguably the second most important subject, shortly behind English. Does music have it's values? Certainly, and I hope you get joy out of whatever music career you can find. But the number of employees who will be impressed by a maths major are plentiful- and it would lose some of that magic to employees if suddenly maths degrees were only about the basics. Also, you say that going into stuff like "algebra, geometry, trig, etc." is outside the basics. Algebra consists in practical terms of working out a formula. That has many, many uses outside of school. Knowing that if something structurally needs x width based upon what y area is, that could help in architecture. Knowing that a certain food product goes best with x garlic and q butter based on what z, the quantity of the product is, can help in so, so many ways. So algebra is needed. Geometry? Again- think about architecture. Trigonometry? That means that an architect can work out on a calculator in seconds what the other angles need to be. It's not that simple, sorting what you need and what is excess. That's because there is no excess. As they become excess, they become obsolete. So all the ones that aren't needed in basic life are already gone.
Debate Round No. 1


I recently got back into college and am forced, due to state rules, to take a sole class called intermediate algebra in order to go on to other classes. As stated, I was a music business student. I am now a kinesiology student. And while I am not 100% sure how much math my new career path will entail, I know that when I was a music business student, I did not need anything beyond basic math. This is true for so many other degrees as well. This translates into everyday life as well. My instructor this semester answered the question of "why do i need this class" and her answer was simple: "because someone else does need it". The answer was simple, but unacceptable. Why do I, whether I was a music business student or a kinesiology student, care what an economics student needs? Why do I care what as per con's example, what math an architect needs? I don't. So why should I be forced to do the same math as him?

Again you have to think of real world applications. Why would an english student need to know how to factor a 15 term polynomial. Now I am sure there are a select few career paths where you would need to know that craziness, but, the majority of us will NEVER have to know this. And same goes for needing to find 3 consecutive odd intergers that equal 143. It is pretty rare to find an employer who will be impressed with you saying "oh I can solve an inequality!"

If college is to prepare us for the real world, then the level of math needed should be on a case by case basis for the reasons I have stated above


Clearly you live by different rules than NZ. Yr 12 onwards, maths is optional in NZ. The fact of the matter is that employers don't care if "Oh, I can solve an inequality" But the fact that you earned a degree in a field viewed as so complex by so many does matter to an employer, regardless of whether the work relies heavily on maths. So it does influence employers psychologically.

Maths is, quite simply, needed for the vast majority of office jobs. Basic maths is enough for most jobs- but you don't get paid as high as you might hope for "enough". "Enough" can be done by anyone. So in a way, "Enough" is actually nowhere near enough. While I can't say I agree with them forcing you to do algebra, it can be said that complex maths is a useful skill to have. If something goes badly in your preferred career, then office jobs are the go to for someone with a degree. But they aren't going to be impressed by the basics.

In fact, the example you present, an English student, will need very much to know maths inside out. A large quantity of those go to office jobs, to write up brilliant reports. And unless they understand in depth the stats that they have, unless they can fully understand the meaning inside what seems to most to be gibberish, the job goes to the next English student in line who did understand the numbers they were given.
Debate Round No. 2


As stated before, Basic math should be the only requirement for MANY college majors. I never said you wouldn't need more than the basics for ALL majors. an architechture major, an engineering major, sure. But there are plenty who don't. An RTF major (radio, television and film), a music performance major, a music business major, english majors. The list goes on.

To hit upon the example Con tried to refute that I made, let's take the english major. What does an english major do? Perhaps he could become a grade school english teacher, a middle school english teacher, a high school english teacher. An english major could have a concentration in creative writting. Maybe they go into some journalism field. Now, Con did try to make claim that an english major would need to "understand the depth od the stats they have". That sounds more like something that would come out of reporting, which is something a journalism student, or an RTF student may need to do. But I have to ask the question: If they are only reporting on certain things and certain stats, why would they need to "understand" the "depth" of said stats? Surely that is not the point.

So the question is, why would someone like an english major, a music major, an RTF major, a music business major, etc. need more than basic math? Regardless of what Con thinks of these fields as viable majors, he needs to explain how something like Algebra or Calculus or any other form of advanced math is needed. He cannot keep drawing up these hypotheticals about office jobs. Not everyone in these fields will be getting an office job. Some of them may not want to settle for an office job.

Con's personal opinions of these fields do not matter, and these office jobs hypotheticals do not matter either. I do not see how these points are relevent.

Parenthetical- the majors I have listed are not limited in this debate. There are so many others I could name, such as a criminal justice major or a law major or a history major


Following the same logic you present every time, every college major is worthless.
English isn't much use in getting a maths degree.
Art isn't going to help you get a degree in Science.
Maths is no more guilty of not helping in other classes than any other subject (with the possible exception of English, which is fundamental in many classes.) So by your logic, college should consist of English lessons, and absolutely nothing else.

If most maths degrees were all about basic maths, we wouldn't know half the mathematical theorems we know today. If a PhD is just a matter of understanding the basics well, it would be ludicrously simple to have a doctorate, which makes the people who actually earned their degree will suddenly have a degree that's common as dirt. They will have written up thousands of words in an original thesis- it's like taking someone's life work and making it suddenly worthless. It's just wrong to think that stopping a few people having to do a little maths here and there is worth losing the value of millions of people's life works.

In response to your point upon how understanding of stats in depth is not vital- you'd be surprised. The deeper the understanding, the better the whole report becomes- and it shows. As such, employers try to get people who not only can manipulate the English language well, but can also understand properly how stats work- both at the basic levels and at the advanced levels.

As well as this in response to what you say on the negating sides opinions on the fields- I don't believe that has any relevance whatsoever, as I see little to no opinions in any of my arguments.

I note what you say about office jobs- thank you for informing me that I was repeating the same argument. I will mention some of the countless jobs outside office jobs where you need more than the basics.
1. Statistician- be this for sport, for tallying votes, statisticians need to properly understand statistics. A basic understanding can be enough, at times- but knowing more about it helps.
2. Scientist- and here is in fact an example of where maths does help in other areas. Science and maths are intricately linked. Science is at it's core, pure mathematics. To be a decent scientist, you need to know maths well.
3. Youtuber- now this may come as quite a surprise to some. But Youtubers have viewer statistics. They have to understand it, so they can manipulate it to maximize views. Can you manage without this? Probably. Does it help? Certainly.

There are countless other examples. The fact of the matter is that the surprising use of Youtube says a lot- that practically any job requires a lot more mathematic knowledge than actual classes for it show. Musicians need maths to understand the patterns that work- Artists need maths to understand the angles that look best. Kinesiologists have to understand how movement works, which is science. And science, I repeat, is intricately related to maths. So maths may in fact help you a lot more than you think. Are one or two of the subjects borderline useful? Probably. But to say that just basic maths is all that should be important is sickening, even if it only applies to a handful of degrees.
Debate Round No. 3


The fact is, you simply DO NOT use certain maths in everyday life. Unless you get joy out of doing it, when is a regular person ever going to need to know how to multiply, add, subtract or divide polynomials? The answer is almost never. Now, there are a select few degrees where this sort of thing is useful, I won't deny that. But the people who will be voting in this debate need to understand, I never said advanced forms of math were never useful. Just for the majority of people, they aren't.

Another thing I must add is, when you take something like something for economics or business, x+y=z x being cost of something, y being a percent of a markup on x and z being the total price of x+y, all you may ever need to know is what z will be. you will never realistically need to find x or y. This is the kind of thing that is in American text books. x+y=z is basic. being forced to find x or y in that formula is not, and it is unneeded.


In everyday life, for a large number, no. But on rare occasions, it is still needed by the majority of people. And when needed, without proper education, people lack the ability to handle these occasions. And however rare they are, you still need to prepare for them.
Students are not inclined to take maths as an option. So a few compulsory things here and there are very, very important, for the sake of making sure you know the advanced stuff for when it comes in handy. For instance, in this technologically advancing world, many would later like to become coders,
(Google is covered in storied about people leaving their normal jobs for coding related jobs. One example being although no one example can really show the bulk of how many people want to start coding jobs.)
which is very difficult to do without huge amounts of maths, in particular the advanced stuff which normally is rarely used. But few of these will actually choose mathematics, as they don't actually link coding to maths. Maths value in other subjects is vastly underestimated. It can help with your logic, which helps in several subjects. Although English takes 1st place, since it helps in essentially every subject, maths is the second most universally helpful subject. So in many circumstances, advanced mathematics is in fact used in everyday life- particularly if you count the logic it teaches. And it can be important in places you would not expect- I point particularly towards a previously mentioned example of Youtuber. Advanced mathematics is essential in a lot of odd places.

In response to your example about X, Y, and Z, in business and economics. The thing is that "Z" is the one that matters- but generally stores tell you about "X". It is a formula for working out what "Z", the actual price is, based on the normal price, which is "X". So the formula you present is in fact supporting evidence of a good use for advanced mathematics.
Debate Round No. 4


Con has argued that many of the majors I listed that did not require advanced math actually did because these majors were so frivolous that one would be relegated to an office job which in his mind would force them to use advanced math. The fact is, that doesn't happen often and Con later admitted this. He admitted that it takes a certain type of major to require advanced math. He used architects as an example in the very first round. Which I never denied. However he kept listing the few majors in which advanced math was required, eschewing all the other countless majors that you really would never use any type of advanced math.

I could use an example of psychology major. Often times, psychology majors become counselors or therapists. You absolutely do not need calculus to become a therapist. Con will almost certainly claim that you do by misassociating psychology with psychiatry. Do not be deceived in this.

A major problem that Con has in this debate is the difference in educational policies in New Zealand where he lives, and Texas, where I live. He even said so. New Zealand has different policies. So this makes it very difficult for either of us to effectively debate this topic. Never the less, any example I came up with to counter Con's stance, Con tried to refute by saying, you won't be able to achieve this or that and you will only get office jobs which utilizes so many different maths (which you won't). And therein lies the problem. English majors, RTF majors, History majors, Music majors, Art majors, and countless other majors, just simply will not ever use advanced math. Not to mention, NOBODY uses advanced math in every day. Just simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is all that is needed to do taxes and balance a check book. there's an old meme i saw a few years back that perfectly describes my point:

Things I never learned in High School:

How to do taxes
What taxes are
How to vote
How to write a resume and cover letter
Anything to do with banking
How to apply for loans for college
How to buy a car or a house

But thank my lucky stars, I can tell you all about Pythagorean Theorems

As you see in the above meme, this is what the American School system believes is important. And yet no one can tell you when the last time they had to use Pythagorean Theorem

In Business, math is used, but as I stated in the last round, the only thing anyone needs to know in X+Y=Z when it relates to a price markup, is Z. You will never need to figure out what X or Y is, it is already given to you. However, math classes which college students are forced to take, they must figure out what X or Y is, and that does not relate to anything outside of that class. You will never need to know this.

And that is why basic math is really the only thing that matters when it comes to math classes


In response to your first paragraph- I was stating that many people find out too late how necessary advanced maths is to their career. Certainly, for some, their career goal has no advanced maths. But some do. And those jobs often don't appear to be maths related, and without this, many would find their jobs significantly harder, facing the possibility of having to give up their goals. No one should have to go through that.

In response to your second paragraph- I will not confuse the two here. Psychology is about curing, psychiatry is about preventing mental illness. But the most important word in that paragraph is "often". That means that some do not enter those fields, and do end up in other situations. And they would not be grateful to have had a field that might have had knowledge they need stolen from them. And there will be some. To suggest that advanced maths should be stopped is unjustified, mainly just being people being too selfish to give others a chance in life at the cost of... what? It doesn't cost you anything more than a little time. And also, for your final point this paragraph, the wording I used was perhaps vague. So to clarify- What I meant was that they need to be skilled in statistical analysis. The more skilled they are, the higher employers will pay them, and the more likely they are to be employed in the first place.

In response to your third paragraph- Yes, absolutely. The different policies in NZ make it very hard to argue this. But onto your other point, upon office jobs. The thing is, I'm not saying all advanced maths is good. Some should be optional. But to drop advanced maths altogether in many college majors is bound to come back to haunt us.

That meme does say a lot. But it says more that basic maths and life needs should be focused upon than that advanced maths should be dropped. It's pointing out how basic maths needs to come first. But it never says that advanced maths should be given up. Also, just to point out "No one can tell you when they last had to use the Pythagorean Theorem of Pythagoras." means nothing. I'd bet that a large number of people couldn't tell you when they last used the word elephant. But they almost certainly have.

And finally, to your last paragraph. That sort of assignment actually has more merit than you'd think. You're viewing it from the mind of a consumer, where X and Y is given. In business, you have to make the Y and X, based on what you want customers to actually pay you for Z. So you work backwards. As such, those assignments do come in useful.

And one point I'd like to mention- The title is "Anything more than basic math is unnecessary for many college majors" And some things, such as statistical analysis, certainly not basic maths, but necessary in many, many jobs, including in fact your previous psychology example. So while not all advanced maths is going to come in handy, by naming this debate with "Anything" that means that anything above the basics that is useful to a large population automatically proves the pro advanced maths debater correct. And statistics proves that.

So for these reasons and more, advanced maths should still be mandatory for college majors.
Thank you for starting this debate, may the best debater win.
Debate Round No. 5
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