Have you ever waited for your change at some fast food joint? Of course you have. Even if youâ€™ve not recently indulged at a fast â€œfoodâ€ bloat buffet, youâ€™ve had to wait for change in other shops. You know how it goes: you stand there holding back an aneurism while the cashier struggles to figure out how to break your twenty-dollar bill. What a toughie.
Experienced clerks know that The Machine automatically tells them the amount of change. Then the clerk has the arduous task of trying to make $8.37, or some such amount, out of the money in the cash drawer. This is where all too many young, eager â€œsmilingâ€ faces crash and burn. Simply counting up from the total price of your purchase to the sum of the $20 with which you paid, could be,
of one of those kids. Is it any wonder that often the clerks are surly?
Even with the answer provided by the cash register (EMB - electronic money-counting brain), the clerks counting out your change appear to be swimming in a sea of mathematical mayhem. God help them if you get cute and think.
For example, you make a $16 purchase. You hand the clerk $21. Totally shaken by the iDonâ€™tGetIt of this, the clerk strives to make sense of the transaction. You are handed back your extra one-dollar bill and then the EMB instructs the clerk to give you four dollars. What you wanted was a five spot. But, this is pushing the outer limits of the clerkâ€™s stunted cranial capacity.
Does this sound familiar? Do you find it not only annoying but also distressing? Hey, these expensively educated children are the next generation who will inherit the earthâ€¦ or is it the wind? I always thought it was to be The Meek but I guess it will be The Imbecilic. It is not a good omen when the planetâ€™s future citizens must wear flip-flops in order to count to twenty.
Oh there are a million fingers out there pointing every which way for someone or something to blame.
How about the parents? Absorbed in their careers, neither husband nor
wife has the time or energy to help Scooter learn to count beyond his
toes. However, busy parents are never too busy to blame the schools.
Firmly grafted to the U.S. Department of Education, the schools need
someone to blame. They donâ€™t want to lose their federal funding. So who
gets to star in a game of dodge ball
for children â€“ prohibited in some school districts)? Ahaâ€¦ The Teachers!
Rant and rave at them! They arenâ€™t doing their jobs!
Baloney. From pre-school until graduationâ€¦ or dropoutâ€¦ every child is
faced with a mix of incompetent and brilliant teachers and everything
in between. Itâ€™s part of the learning experience. Either way, it is not
the fault of the teachers that on math tests, children regularly score
lower than that unsightly shrubbery taking over the Rose Garden.
For the most part the teachers try their best, intend well and find
their hands tied by school administrators, by the demands of the
parents, and hamstrung by the curriculum provided.
Gone is the reliance on teaching
â€œProgramsâ€ are all the rage. School administrators and parents are
always on the lookout out for new, exciting programs complete with the
latest bells and whistles
that are guaranteed
to raise test scores and grades. As a result, our schools are pouring
forth a society of illiterate nimrodsâ€¦ like my dogs, Nimrod and Little
Brain. I canâ€™t wait until these
cretins get into the White
House and Congress. No, I donâ€™t mean Nimrod and Little Brain even
though it would be an improvement. Anyway, itâ€™s already happened
. Cretins are already running rampant
in our government.
So what about math? I hated it in school. Who didnâ€™t? Until it becomes
a practical tool in life, math is one huge pain in the sit upon
. However, we survived. Some of us can even use math! But our kids canâ€™t!
I may not be a math teaching whiz. But I can see clearly where the deficiencies lie. Itâ€™s called The Basics
You know, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Even the
simplest one-digit operations can throw a child into total confusion.
This is something of a contradiction in our hi-tech era. Your child
spends hours playing computer games based on a binary system that ties
him in knots.
Administrations and parents are being sold a whole lot of hooey when
they spend thousands of education dollars on flashy programs. The U.S.
Department of Education has a budget of $88.9 billion
and you-know-who paid for it.
Someone is getting rich. But it sure as hell isnâ€™t you or your children. Fortunately for the education grifters
, your children wonâ€™t have the know-how to see itâ€¦ let alone catch them.
One such program is Everyday Mathematics
created and published by the University of Chicago Mathematics
Project. Due to its confusing nature, within the teaching world E.M.
is also known as â€œfuzzy math.â€
And fuzzy it is, but not the warm, snuggly kind.
boasts a â€œspiraling systemâ€ (hey if they
donâ€™t get it the first time, maybe they wonâ€™t get it the second eitherâ€¦
or the third, fourth, fifth, etc.). E.M.
also uses bizarre terminology unfamiliar to most parents. That means that busy parents must master Everyday Mathematics
in order translate that which they already know how to do into E.M.
â€™s new fangled lingo for the purpose of explaining it to their childrenâ€¦ if they can
Confused? You ainâ€™t seen nothinâ€™ yet! Itâ€™s kind of like learning how to
â€œspeakâ€ a foreign languageâ€¦ without having a clue what youâ€™re
even has geography lessons (I donâ€™t get that eitherâ€¦ unless
they are to help find Middle Eastern oil deposits)! I suppose counting
math. Unfortunately for the students, there are more than twenty.
It gets better. Everyday Mathematics
is chock full of alternative algorithms. What, you ask, are those? For
those of you out there who suffer from â€œmathematics deprivation
syndromeâ€ (MDS, the new plague replacing bird flu), an algorithm is a
â€œmethod to solve problems.â€ Your basic method of adding two digit
numbers through â€œcarryingâ€ is an example of an algorithm. E.M.
â€™s program is brimming over with â€œalternative methodsâ€ giving children a miasma of choices from which to be baffled further.
Well, if it ainâ€™t brokeâ€¦ better fix it. Traditional methods are passÃ©.
Unfortunately, the old-fashioned methods only offered one way to solve
a problem and another way to check it. Everyday Mathematics
makes attaining a lucrative career as the Village Idiot all that more challenging. Too much competition.
ensures that it will be nearly impossible
for parents to help their perplexed offspring. Will there be federal
funding for No Parent Left Behind? I sure hope so! Additionally,
continued use of Everyday Mathematics
is a sure fire method to hardwire children with indelible hostilility towards math.
It makes me long for the good old days of Tom Lehrer and New Math
Not convinced? Hereâ€™s an explanatory video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI
For education officials who have to buy a program, there are alternatives such as Saxon Math, Progress in Mathematics and Singapore Math
, all of them highly effective in actually teachingâ€¦ math.
I suggest concerned parents raise a full-blown, bovine stink to get Everyday Mathematics
tossed out of their childrenâ€™s classrooms and into the dumpster where
it belongs. Orâ€¦ we can look forward to longer lines at the Chum Bucket
Sea Food Buffet waiting for our change.
And remember this. Your
children will be the ones to pick out your
rest home and pay for it! It might help if they can add up the bill correctly.
Special thanks to Linda Schrock-Taylor.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.