The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Weight Lifting for Your Brain

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I wish every kid in school got this answer to the question - “When am I ever going to use this …”:

We all kind of sit there for a few second and then one student raises her hand and asks, “When are we ever going to use calculus in our lives?”

“NEVER!!” Mr. Welch bellows like an avalanche, slamming his palms down on the desk in front of him. “You will never use calculus in your day-to-day life, so I don’t ever want you to ask me about it.”

Everybody in the class was kind of stunned into silence, but then Mr. Welch continued in a gentler tone. “OK then, if you’re not going to use calculus in your life, then why are you taking this class?” We all looked at each other, unsure of how to answer.

Mr. Welch turned to one of the football players in the class. “Tim,” he said, “do you and the other guys on the football team ever use the weight room as part of your team practice?”

“Sure,” Tim replied. “We lift weights twice a week.”

“Why?!” Mr. Welch shot back. “Will there ever be a game where it will be necessary to lie down on the field and benchpress somebody from the other team?”

“No,” Tim replied.

“Then why do you do it?”

“Because it makes us stronger.”

“BINGO,” said Mr. Welch. “You’re not here in this class because calculus is going to be some essential life skill that you’re going to use every day. You’re here because calculus is weight lifting for your brain.”

Weight lifting for your brain.