Have Young People Lost the Skill of Math?

Have Young People Lost the Skill of Math?


Have Youngsters Lost the Skill of Math?

On this past Sunday Evelina and I ventured out to participate in one of my favorite activities of the year-Christmas tree shopping.  There is a local tree lot near our house so I jumped in Little White Truck and headed out to find the perfect tree.

Evelina met me there and it only took us 10 minutes to find our gem.  As the young man trimmed the bottom limbs and stump I went to the hut to pay.  I handed the young lady a $100 bill to pay for our $69 tree.  I expected her to reach into the register and quickly hand me a twenty, ten and single bill.  Instead she grabbed her iPhone, typed in her security code, opened the calculator app and used it to do the math.  100 minus 69 =31.  I stood amazed as did her coworkers as she then reached in the draw and counted out my change.

As I stood there waiting for my tree she used her calculator several more times, all of which to do simple math problems.  100-80=20.  80-75=5.  For a brief moment I thought to give her the benefit of the doubt until one of her coworkers teased her about the quality of education she was receiving at her university.  At that point I was even more amazed.  This kid is going to graduate college and she cannot do simple mathematics without a calculator.  How is this possible?

Have we gotten to a time in our history when kids cannot perform simple operations without using a device or running to Google?  And I’m not talking about complicated calculations.  I’m not expecting someone to calculate the launch angle necessary for a rocket to hit the moon.   100-69=31.  Are we devolving into the human form found in the movie Wall-E?


My personal belief is that we ARE becoming more lazy and that technology (with all its advantages) is doing as much harm as it is good in some instances.  It isn’t technology that is at fault, but it has a lot to do with our reliance on technology.  Spellcheck.  Google.  Smart devices.  For heaven’s sake there are kids who don’t use their hands to write.  40% of kids who took the ACT in 2016 lack the reading and writing skills needed to pass a basic college level writing course, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

I know I sound like the proverbial old guy standing on his porch yelling “You kids get off my lawn”, but come on!  80-75=5?  Really?  I find it hard to believe that if pressed this girl could not have come up with 5 as the answer without using a calculator.

Sometimes I think humans are evolving…then this happens and hope comes crashing down around me.

Maybe it is time for Jethro Bodine to start teaching math in our schools.

Naught x naught = naught.  Shouldn’t be too hard to do that math!



28 thoughts on “Have Young People Lost the Skill of Math?

  1. When I was taught Math in grade school, it was old school. Jo calculators. only simple math. It is easy to do equations in my head, adding subtracting and multiplying. They seem like basic skills.

  2. I have read that many silicon valley employees are sending their kids to schools which are tech-free. I think there is a balance to be found. I do not allow my kids to use calculators to do their math—everything is by hand. I also have them do daily math drills because, honestly, that is the only way it sticks (repetition). The new common core focuses primarily on “do you get the concept,” but we need both! We need the kids to understand the concept, but be drilled frequently enough to have it come as swiftly and easily as using a calculator.

  3. Try giving these kids bills and change which would allow them to just give you bills in return and they’re totally lost. I know I’m old but I weep for the future. There is so little in the way of true education these days.

    1. I think it is obvious that I’m not making a statement which includes folk with serious challenges. I’m not putting in a disclaimer every time as these types of disclaimers are a given imo.

  4. I’m on the other end of the spectrum as far as uni and HE is concerned the majority of my students arrive with no qualifications at age 16 and it appears there are 3 major problems
    A they have been let down by the system
    B they are basically lazy
    C their parents are either not bothered or they only have their mum (dads gone) and she’s working 60-70 hours a week to keep her head above water. Most of them have difficulty dividing 50 in half. Sad thing is it’ll only get worse 😞

  5. I think technology in general is slowly affecting us all. We used to learn how to get from point A to point B, and now, we just follow our GPS blindly…. We would use our memory to remember phone numbers, and now we have all our contacts on speed dial… The more apps we get, the less we use our brains. I guess ”evolution” comes with a cost. I just hope it won’t leave us dummer than we used to be. *sigh*

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