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!