Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Under the heading "THIS drives me crazy!" or Why can't kids today do math?"

This afternoon, my youngest had a bass lesson. Before his lesson, we dropped into a local store for a drink and snack (he's pre-teen boy and is ALWAYS hungry). The total came to $7.68.

I gave the young man behind the till $10.00.

He asked if I had any change "because, like, we can always use change" (Okay, that's another thing that drives me crazy - why is like being used in this manner - ALL THE TIME???) But I digress (as I often do).

So I dug into my wallet and gave him 68 cents.

He handed me a toonie. (Okay, at first, he didn't give me anything - until I said "I gave you ten dollars.")

I politely said "Actually, you owe me another dollar."

He said "No, if you do the math, it's only 2 dollars."

So I did the math in my head - $10.68 subtract $7.68 equals $3.00. 10 minus 3 is 7, 68 - 68 is zero. Therefore he owes me $3.00.

And I said "You owe me another dollar".

I could mentally see him using his fingers and toes to figure it out. He reluctantly gave me the extra dollar….but I think he was convinced that I had somehow conned an extra dollar out of him.

I blame all the gadgets that automatically do the work - digital watches, calculators, cash registers that calculate the change and don't make us use our brains. It's a math literacy problem - and you can see it every day. (Okay now I sound like my mother's generation) - The part that drives me nuts isn't that he couldn't do the math - well that does drive me nuts, but the OTHER thing that drove me nuts was that he had me doubting my ability to do math - which is reasonably good and has helped one child through to university, with 2 more in the wings.

I don't have any problem with people who cannot do math - math can be a challenge for some people (usually, it's the calculus and trig that does people in, not addition and subtraction, but if people find that a challenge as well, I can work with that) - it's when they argue with me over something that is easily proveable (is that even a word?) with pen and paper (or I suppose they could use a calculator - but really? 1068-768 - shouldn't be that tough). Give it up fella - you are not going to win this one - and I wasn't trying to pull the wool over your eyes, either (see, I knew I could get a yarn reference in here somehow!!)

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