Math is pretty.  I’m not arguing the point.  I’m stating.

I’m a math teacher.  Why?  Math is so stinking pretty and I love academia.  Therefore, teaching is a way to indulge the puzzle-icious fun that is mathematics.  Also, I straddle the chasm between silly and articulate.  That helps.

One might consider a career change—but what?  Truly, honestly…with the math teacher hat off, what occupation would enable a nerd to do fun math?  The obvious answer is any career that has to do with physics, engineering, navigation, and research (those are math teachers’ go-to careers when explaining why students need math), but when I talk about math to people in those careers, they all recite, “Oh, I just let the computers do that.”  Then they submit, “I haven’t used any math in years.”  (Among the bubble-bursters are engineers, a master electrician, architects, and pilots.)

I want to walk into a job and find a new problem every day that requires a blend of trig, calculus, geometry, and algebra (especially trig…because it’s the prettiest…or maybe calc is.  I can’t decide.).  I don’t mean arithmetic operations in spreadsheets.  That’s not pretty math; it’s the labor of a drone.

I ask, what career is it that uses the upper high school and undergraduate math that we so desperately insist that students learn?

Let me be clear.  I’m certainly not criticizing the education of mathematics.  The understanding thereof alters the way that people process information.  The mental training spills over into other areas.  Yes, we should continue to educate in mathematics because the education breeds a generation who can conceptualize solutions on several scales.  I am not acquiescing and saying, “People don’t really use it so let’s forget it.”  I’m saying, “Where is that job?  I want it.”

Now, outside of number crunching in a spreadsheet, education, or researching for a university (that’s mostly the boring number crunching and education combined), where is the job that uses a person instead of computer to conceptualize and find solutions using a vast array of undergraduate disciplines?

I hear such an occupation exists, but the scientists keep telling me that it’s just a mirage.  That’s a dagger in the heart of a nerd.