Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.
Many people believe that they will not use math in their "real life," but math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs, or balancing a checkbook. And it's not just about training American's to become scientists. It has implicit value. Math is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people. The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. Math give us a powerful tool to understand our universe and to strengthen our minds, as well as to give us problem solving skills for use in the "real world" of our lives. I repeat: "Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way."
(The above is a paraphrase of the article Why Math Always Counts by Arthur Michelson, which first appeared in the L. A. Times on December 26, 2004.)