Uh Oh! We’re in trouble!
We run a educational bookstore business, and we often hire employees to help us. Usually these are college students. Recently we decided to give a simple math test to our potential employees as a way to screen out those who may make costly computation errors when working for us. I was stunned at the ease of the standard industry test form we found: simple division and multiplication, addition and subtraction that required “carrying” (“regrouping”). Nothing very advanced. I know that my 11-year-old could do it easily, as could yours!
The results of giving this test were so alarming to me, that I feel like an eyewitness to the dumbing down of America. One applicant went to college on a scholarship. The very first problem on the math test (simple 2 digit long division) stumped her, and she could go no further. When questioned, she replied, “I always used a calculator in school.” Others who applied for the test did equally as poorly. Some were appalled that we would even ask them to take such a “hard test”.
I can’t help but wonder about the future of our country . . . particularly when compared to the math whizzes of the Asian nations. Do the students in our medical schools have the same problem as my applicants? What will happen when you or I are the one in the ambulance while the medical personnel are trying to calculate the amount of life-saving medication needed? What will happen when they have to calculate the measurements for proper launch of a space shuttle or the runway distance needed when building a new airport? If you can’t do the mental math to estimate the range an answer should fall in, you can make some mighty big mistakes! Sure hope I am not on the operating table when those goofs happen!
Please, Moms, teach your children to do their math by hand. When it is learned to mastery, they may use a calculator, provided there are still basic math practice problems done regularly by hand. Keep them sharp and practiced so they can breeze through a mental calculation in the grocery store to see which bag of apples are the best buy per pound, or be able to estimate to see if a complex answer given by a calculator is right or not.
There are times when we have to use our head. I think we’ve become way too dependent and are not teaching our kids to think instead of relying on electronic devices.
I’m motivated. . . time for some math facts practice at my house!
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