I was out of lunch meat, so Garry went to the deli. It was Monday and the deli was out of everything except (sigh) turkey breast. Not my favorite, but I’m betting today is a delivery day. Garry asked the newest lady at the counter for 3/4 of a pound of turkey breast. Like a deer caught in headlights, she was lost. She could probably “do” a pound — or half a pound. But what was 3/4? She obviously didn’t recognize it as 75% of a pound (which is 100%), or even that it’s likely the line between the half pound and full pound markers.

Schools don’t teach math in any way that might be useful to those they have taught. They have gotten into systems so complicated that no one under 40 can do any math in their head. They need a calculator. Even to subtract one number from another. Oh, and they can’t count on their fingers. Eventually, the boss stopped what he was doing and came over to rescue her. Garry came home. He commented that there’s a scale and surely the young women (in her 20s) could tell that there was a line between half a pound and one pound and that would be the three-quarter, right?

Wrong. She doesn’t know that 3/4 (of one) = 75% (of one). Have you ever tried to explain to a clerk how to turn 99-cents into a dollar?

“Look, I’ll give you a penny and you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

“So that means that if I give you a penny, you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

This is because she doesn’t know that 100 cents (pennies) equal one dollar. We are worried that our “below age 40” youngsters aren’t going to vote. I’m beginning to worry that they can’t think. Apparently, thinking is no longer taught in school. If you don’t get a head start at home with the whole “thinking” thing, you’re doomed. You’ve got to wonder if folks who don’t know that 99-cents plus a penny (one cent) equals a dollar, how can we expect them to have a grip on the issues? Or even know what kind of government we have or might want?

Categories: Cooking, Food, Humor, learning, mathematics

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22 replies

  1. When these complicated situations arise, I always think of Emerson’s advice: “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”


  2. I’m not sure why they started teaching children these complicated ways of doing math. We all learned my rote and it is still stuck in my brain. I can calculate my sales tax in my head and offer a clerk a $5 bill and a quarter when my bill is $4.25 without feeling like I have to explain.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We shouldn’t NEED to explain, but watching them flounder helplessly because they don’t get that 99 cents plus a penny equals a dollar is pretty sad. Given how they are teaching math, I can easily understand why. No one taught them a system they can really USE in real life. I hope they give all of this “new math” up and remember that some of us actually NEED numbers in the real world!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When my son first started school, I used to help in the classroom with a few other mums. I couldn’t believe how ill-equipped for learning a large number of kids were. Even at five years old, there was a huge gap between children like my son — who had basic literacy and numeracy skills — and those for whom everything in the classroom was alien. Teaching across all those ability levels was impossible. Some kids were bored witless; others totally bewildered. Worse, the teachers themselves seemed pretty hopeless and had no idea how to use the extra resource of capable, willing mothers. Within months, we all stopped offering and put our energies elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If mom is working and never home, kids don’t learn basics — like measuring amount or that two pieces cut from one piece are still the same size (unless you are using calculus to figure out the miniscule difference, which I’m definitely NOT doing). But the bewilderment of the teachers is pretty alarming. They also never learned proper grammar and can’t teach it. They never diagrammed a sentence (diagrammed a WHAT?) or got much past verbs and nouns, much less clauses and punctuation and adverbs.

      No wonder they don’t know anything. We have determined that the schools teach to succeed in national testing, but not how to think or create. That’s going to hurt us. We’re going to have to import the innovators!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Agreed; so many kids spend all day in daycare and don’t learn the basics. Both parents have to work to afford the house and new cars and — the daycare! I feel really grateful I was able to pull back on work and spend time with my boy when he was young. I did wonder during his school years if I’d done him a disservice encouraging independent thinking. He was constantly in trouble for asking “why” and challenging the rigid system. But now I see the adult he’s become — I’m glad he didn’t lose that independence.

        And as for teachers …. aaagh. I used to get in trouble at school for correcting the spelling and grammar of my teachers — and it has got so much worse. ☹️

        Liked by 1 person

        • Are students taught to open their eyes and minds as to how the “dry” subjects apply to the real world?

          I’m not sure. We know many schools are pushing students to seek good grades – based on exams that rely on dates, numbers and outdated philosophy. As a High School sub, not that long ago, I was aghast at the curriculums and teaching philosophy.


    • I suspect, many were simply bewildered!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Truly sad, the education they are getting today.


  5. It’s terrible how little young people know. Schools don’t seem to teach the practical stuff. As for new math, they started teaching it when I was still at school but I could never see the point of it. What was wrong with the old math and how was the new meant to be easier? Was it meant to be easier?


    • New math is useless for most people. The old math, we could “round up” and then subtract or add the difference. I still do mental arithmetic, even though I’m mathematically minimally functional. New math is supposed to teach concepts, but I think all it does is confuse everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s frightening, and it started years ago.One day, I came across two students with a  calculator. One asked the  other “What’s l2 by l2 equal?I answered without thinking, “One hundred and forty-four.” They looked at me. “That’s not right,” said one. Then they checked their calculator and back at me in astonishment. “How did you know that?”  I told them, “‘I learned my times table when I went to school.”Education isn’t what it used to be when we depended on our minds alone.Technology has its positive points, but we also lose some of our natural talents along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mind calculators, but basic stuff you should be able to just USE it. It’s the bread and butter of the mathematical world. you need it to figure out how much the groceries in your cart costs (I keep a running “rounded” list in my head while I shop), or whether there’s a real difference in price between items on the shelf based on not only the number, but the size of the can. And they don’t seem to have the sense to look and make sure that two things are the same size or weight and most of them can’t read labels. They worry so much about labeling. It would be useful if they also knew what those numbers and percentages mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. At work sometime, I would say the time is ‘quarter of 2″–1:45 in digital time. Younger people would look at me. You know they were trying to process but could not compute, even vaguely, what language I was speaking.
    Three quarters of a pound and they did not know….This has me wondering about something. Lately when I am paying for a purchase at the store, I’m asked if I want to ’round it up’ to the next dollar. I do. But thinking about it, this makes it so much easier to figure out change, too. So strange. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A quarter of an hour is unknown. For a while, they weren’t teaching analog clock reading to students. They assumed that no one had an analog clock. When I discovered my granddaughter could not read an analog clock, I was imagining her in London, staring at Big Ben — and not knowing what it said.

      So I picked up a couple of used wooden clocks with hands you can move around and within 15 minutes, she could tell time. It’s not even hard to teach, so the failure to teach it is sheer laziness.

      As for percentages, even if you didn’t learn it in school, I’m pretty sure you should be able to figure out the basics all by yourself if you try. They don’t try.


      • It is awful what kids don’t learn in school anymore. I saw your above comment about schools teaching for national testing. Yes! I worked with younger mothers with kids in school and all it was was preparing for standardized testing. As for diagraming sentences (a particular love of mine), that is by the wayside along with cursive writing. No wonder kids freak out when their batteries run down. They are lost without their electronics.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That picture says it all, Marilyn… I taught my boys old maths and multiplication tables… the schools didn’t. They use old maths and can actually think…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I taught Owen and my granddaughter basic “old math” and both of them can do basic math in their heads. Pity the kids whose parents never gave them that bit of mental equipment. New math is useless if you’re trying to track how much money the stuff in your grocery cart is going to cost. Actually, I think it’s just plain useless.


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Tish Farrell

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