Math illiteracy

This site continues to mention math curricula challenges from time to time, and as long as I am around, and have community math experiences, it will continue to do so.
I try to visit Madison’s wonderful Farmer’s Market weekly. This past weekend, I purchased some fabulous raspberries from an older Hmong couple. Their raspberries are the best. Unfortunately, while I made my purchase, they asked how much change I was due, something I saw repeated with other buyers. They periodically have a younger person around to handle the transactions, or a calculator.
Purchasing tickets at high school sporting events presents yet another opportunity to evaluate high schooler’s basic, but ESSENTIAL math skills. A Dane County teenager could not make change from $10 for three $2 tickets recently. I have experienced this at local retail establishments as well.
Unfortunately, the “Discovery” approach to math does not appear work….

One thought on “Math illiteracy”

  1. I had a similar experience at Copps off Whitney Way some years ago. On the positive side, the girl at the checkout (late teen or early 20’s) showed resourcefulness, creativity and ingenuity — traits that are highlighted in MMSD’s strategic plan and cherished as 21st Century skills — skills, I’ve heard, that will separate the US from the rest of the world.
    So, the bill was 9 dollars and change, and I handed her a twenty. The registers were down, so she had to use the positive traits MMSD had taught her. She couldn’t do the subtraction in her head, so she went to the ATM machine to have it do the math for her. I truly was impressed — didn’t know the ATM machine was capable of being used for that purpose — ingenious and creative.
    She came back with the answer — she owed me a little less than $29 dollars. As she was fidgeting to give me my change (being a creative soul, the answer seemed right to her), I corrected her, otherwise she would be spending the night trying discover why her register didn’t balance (or be accused of theft).
    Hooray for MMSD math curriculum!

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