I have to ask a couple of questions.
- Are all of my students going to be building bridges?
- Do the specific techniques of building bridges really translate to all of the "not yet invented" jobs of the 21st Century?
- Isn't raw, pure math authentic, too?
Can I ever get specific in high school math?
Should my job be to provide the students with as broad a foundation as possible, with as few specifics as possible, or should I bring my engineering knowledge to the classroom and demand that everyone understand mathematics from the perspective of a mechanical engineer trained before the wide-spread and use of computers in classrooms, before the internet, before smartphones and smartboards, ... and if you ask some of my students, Before the Flood, too?
I am often reminded of this question when people tell me to bring the "RealWorld questions" into the classroom and the students, with varying degrees of certitude, tell me that "I'm never going to need to know that."