When I was in high school, I went to schools both in the United States and in Australia. At that time, there was a belief that not every child wanted to go to college.
It was interesting because at that time, it was believed that we should prepare students for either college or for going into the work force. That was the key word - prepare.
I spent two years in Australia which was way different than in the United States. At that time, students in 8th grade, chose a strand for either college bound, office or work, or life skills. The difference was that there was one strand in the office or work tracks that allowed students to choose either college or work at 16.
16 was the magic number when you left school or you took classes to prepare you for college. There was this little law that allowed employers to pay young adults between 16 and 18 less than adults so many would hire someone just out of school and fire them at 18.
It didn't matter which choice a student made, they were taught the appropriate math be it algebra or accounting or math associated with carpentry or cars. I knew several students who studied shop or office subjects while planning to go to college so they would have a choice.
In the United States, they offered a distributive education designed to have students work half a day in a real business while taking English, Math and Social Studies. This a a place where many students left school to work in the oil fields because their fathers worked there and it was a way to support a family. Many girls started families before school ended.
The commonality between these two ways is simply based on making sure students had a choice, training and no matter which way they went, they were taught math. It might have been the math needed in the working sector but it was math.
Recently, we are operating under the idea that all students should be prepared to attend college rather than think about becoming plumbers, carpenters, office workers, etc. The people who keep society functioning! Think about it! People who make sure everything moves smoothly.
I love teaching math. I love integrating technology into math. I love finding mathematical applications of the math I teach but I wish I had the time to spend showing the wonders of the world of math to the students.
Some students need the choice because without it, they feel helpless and are less likely to buy into learning the topic. Choice of their future. Choice makes a difference. Choice.