It is difficult to understand something that you think has no relevance to your life. Travelers to foreign countries, for example, often experience a sense of disorientation when they observe cultural practices without having a point of reference. Math students are very much the same. As they journey into new mathematical territory, they often feel perplexed and overwhelmed. In the eyes of struggling students, equations on the blackboard can quickly transmogrify into a welter of meaningless symbols. Eventually, they will ask the question every math teacher dreads hearing: “When will I ever need this?”

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