Canadian Mac Forums at ehMac banner
1 - 20 of 78 Posts

·
}<-('o')-
Joined
·
9,917 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some canned goods were on sale at Sobey’s today. The price was good so I picked up a whole case worth of one product.

At the check-out counter the 19-20 year old asked how many cans were in the case. Surprised that she couldn’t figure it out herself in a second, I replied, “Let’s see, 3 times 6” as I ran my finger down one side, then the other.

She keeps looking at me, waiting for me to continue. I assumed I didn’t need to and resumed loading up my groceries.

“So… 21?” she finishes for me.

“Uhhh, no… 18.” I say, watching her face to see if she is kidding. She is not. In fact she squints her eyes in doubt.

“3 times 6 is 18” I confirm, for assurance.

She purses her lips.

“6 plus 6 is 12...plus another 6 is 18, right?” I reiterate, laying my hand on each row of six as I say this.

What did she do next? You guessed it. She counted each one with her finger.

Yup, 18.

Holy multiplication failure! How can these kids make it through junior high math let alone high school math without knowing their basic times tables?? I was never a math whiz but at least I knew the basics.

Do math teachers test for basic skill competency at all levels? If not, maybe they should. Perhaps the trouble a struggling student is having is due to the lack of a fundamental skill?

I think I’ll run the resident teen through her times tables when she gets home from school today……this has me both alarmed and intrigued.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,864 Posts
KC, my son goes to one of the Toronto schools that scores well in provincial competency tests. Learning times tables by rote is not part of the current requirement--it's up to me to make sure that happens.
 

·
Resident Hijacker
Joined
·
8,758 Posts
I had to have extra help to learn times tables by rote in school. :)

It wasn't part of the curriculum, but I had a middle-school math teacher that used to give us drills on quickly estimating things--that was among the most useful things I'd learned in math that year.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,326 Posts
The only thing I remember is that when multiplying by 9, the digits in the answer add up to 9. Why yes, I have a degree in the liberal arts.
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
We had to memorize the multiplication tables frontwards and backwards. We were pushed with the warnings that "Russian school children are doing this, and they have the bomb!!!!". After math, we would do air raid drills, and "drop, tuck and cover". The fact that where I lived in New York City was in the first strike zone, and would be dust, was not what worried me for some reason. The fact that I was hiding under a wooden desk when the fireball hit worried me, since it would be kindling.

I was a product of the old math, as opposed to the new math, as opposed to today's new new math. We did "gozinters", "summerwitches" and "eagles" in school and at home. To this day, I can do my income tax without a calculator and still get it totally correct.
 

·
Resident Curmudgeon
Joined
·
86,940 Posts
Memorizing the times tables were a fundamental part of early elementary school and serve me well to this day.

As far as I am concerned, they still should be a mandatory part of the curriculum. The number of young people who cannot count, never mind add, multiply etc., is appalling and is a sad reflection of a school system that failed them.
 

·
}<-('o')-
Joined
·
9,917 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
KC, my son goes to one of the Toronto schools that scores well in provincial competency tests. Learning times tables by rote is not part of the current requirement--it's up to me to make sure that happens.
I agree Macfury. It's up to the parent(s) to reinforce this type of learning at home. This was done (ad nauseum) when my daughter was in grade school. Perhaps it bears repeating in middle school and again in high school.

She made it safely past the Multiplication Monster Mom at the door today. One never knows though when it may strike again. Mwaaahahahahaaa.

One would think Math teachers could spot the lack of fundamental skills, especially when teaching the higher math curriculums. Maybe this the result of an over-reliance on calculators?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,864 Posts
They don't allow calculators in elementary school here, but they don't expect a knowledge of the multiplication table either. My understanding is that post-secondary schools have a devil of a time teaching remedial math at the elementary school level.
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
I agree Macfury. It's up to the parent(s) to reinforce this type of learning at home. This was done (ad nauseum) when my daughter was in grade school. Perhaps it bears repeating in middle school and again in high school.

She made it safely past the Multiplication Monster Mom at the door today. One never knows though when it may strike again. Mwaaahahahahaaa.

One would think Math teachers could spot the lack of fundamental skills, especially when teaching the higher math curriculums. Maybe this the result of an over-reliance on calculators?
I keep telling my students that your assessments of strength and needs should guide your instruction. Granted, this is in literacy, but I feel the same should hold true in math. "Mental math" is coming back into the curriculum of some schools here in NL. Not sure if they will call this the "old new new math" or not. It was so much easier dealing with the mathematical concepts of "gozinters", "summerwitches" and "eagles".
 

·
Tritium Glow
Joined
·
7,141 Posts
We had to memorize the multiplication tables frontwards and backwards. .
Same here, although there are days I have to think real hard to remember the odd combination. :lmao:
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
Same here, although there are days I have to think real hard to remember the odd combination. :lmao:
Same here, but I think that this comes with age. My son got upset with me when I had him do the whole routine of "gozinters", "summerwitches" and "eagles". Still, he was able to get grades of "A" in high school math.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,415 Posts
While I am starting to see the value in having memorized the times tables up to 12x12, I certainly can see why the inability of current students to preform these sorts of rote tasks is the least of our problems.

I deal with second, third and fourth year science students who can't construct a grammatically correct english sentence. And worse, they can't comprehend why I might see this as a problem. If they need to turn to their calculators to do basic arithmetic, that's bad enough, but the fact is that they cannot then express the meaning of their answer in a coherent sentence, nor can they recognize when their answers are nonsensical (e.g. "the functional groups are -18.4 nanometers squared apart") is what really disturbs me.

I teach biochemistry, and my students often object that "this is not English, so grammar shouldn't count." My reply is that if you cannot express your answer in a way that is clear and unequivocal in its meaning, your answer is effectively wrong.

I used to write on exams things like "This sentence no verb", but no one got the joke, so I gave up.

With the number of students I have to deal with (without teaching assistants or other support), there is no way I can evaluate significant written answers on tests or assignments, but I'm trying to find ways to require both mathematical and writing skills be demonstrated in all my courses.

It both appals and baffles me that our students are not only permitted to graduate high school while so demonstrably lacking these basic skills, but many of them are graduating with outstanding grades, and yet clearly unable to preform even the most basic arithmetic operations or express themselves in written or spoken english.

While the obviously desirable solution is to improve instruction at the high-school level, in the short term, I really think schools have to start failing/holding back a lot of students until they can demonstrate mastery of these basic skills.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,864 Posts
in the short term, I really think schools have to start failing/holding back a lot of students until they can demonstrate mastery of these basic skills.
Bingo! But they won't or they'll be sued by angry parents. They're all superlative! It's mathematically impossible for everyone to be above average--but they all are!

Education is now "outcome based"--a passing grade for all and kudos for showing up some of the time!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,404 Posts
Try dealing with a young retail clerk when the bill comes to $5.37 and you give them a ten dollar bill plus 37 cents and watch the confusion in their eyes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,415 Posts
My concern is that, having accepted them into university (and having taken their money for tuition), and passed them in their first year courses (which are all evaluated multiple-choice based exams), we have effectively taken some moral responsibility for their ability to complete a degree.

Perhaps I'm still naive and idealistic, but when I'm failing substantial populations of my students in second year biochemistry because they can't manage to calculate a ratio, don't know what a logarithm is, have no clue what pH means (despite having passed 4 intro chemistry courses that are prerequisite for my course), and can't construct a sentence that I can interpret (hell, to be honest, I can't even figure out what letters the marks they make on the paper are supposed to be much of the time), I feel like we've betrayed a trust, and ought to have to refund their tuition.

But not only do these kids (and their parents) think they're entitled to a degree if they show up to class now-and-then, they (and their parents) come down on me (and the department chair, and the dean) like a ton of bricks when they don't get A's because they're goin' t' med-skool don'cha know, and any one who fails to recognize their brilliance is going to face the wrath of the helicopter parents and all their lawyers.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,864 Posts
bryanc: I feel for you on this. They should be turfed out gently, but that won't happen.

I recall a student who was accidentally placed on a scholarship list despite her poor grades. When the parents saw that she had received a letter explaining the error, they demanded that the school give her a scholarship anyway. Unbelievable.
 

·
IAMSTIG
Joined
·
2,676 Posts
While the obviously desirable solution is to improve instruction at the high-school level, in the short term, I really think schools have to start failing/holding back a lot of students until they can demonstrate mastery of these basic skills.
My wife works at a local high school and she's sickened and appalled at what's going on with the students. Teachers there aren't allowed to fail or punish students so they let them slide though life learning nothing about responsibility so it doesn't surprise me what so ever to hear they're also not doing well in post secondary.

All that said wasn't it Einstein that said never let school get in the way of your education? I have two young girls and we fully intend to make sure they're well educated no matter what they learn in school along the way.
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
"I teach biochemistry, and my students often object that "this is not English, so grammar shouldn't count." My reply is that if you cannot express your answer in a way that is clear and unequivocal in its meaning, your answer is effectively wrong." Amen, brother.

I have been teaching either pre-service or practicing teachers literacy methodology courses for my 33 years here at Memrorial University. Now, teaching web courses since 1997, I am exposed to undergrad and grad students from all provinces here in Canada. When I was a high school teacher, I did not have the constraints that Andrew Pratt's wife faces when he wrote that "Teachers there aren't allowed to fail or punish students so they let them slide though life learning nothing about responsibility so it doesn't surprise me what so ever to hear they're also not doing well in post secondary." Still, many of my students who are teaching across the country from grades 7-12 are facing these very same situations.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,841 Posts
Try dealing with a young retail clerk when the bill comes to $5.37 and you give them a ten dollar bill plus 37 cents and watch the confusion in their eyes.
I was going to mention that one as well. Even more terrifying if you give them $11.10 when the bill is $6.05. Don't know why that should be confusing but apparently it is.
 

·
Mac Guru
Joined
·
14,627 Posts
I was going to mention that one as well. Even more terrifying if you give them $11.10 when the bill is $6.05. Don't know why that should be confusing but apparently it is.
This is becoming an increasingly moot point as most cashiers these days, minus a few businesses still, have a machine in which you can input the amount given to them by the customer and it will tell you what change is required. No thinking, math skills, or really any skills at all required. It saves times, and more importantly prevents mistakes made by your own calculations in your head no matter how basic and easy the equation.

I'm also curious to know that if a cashier looks stumped when you give them extra cents to round it off to an even dollar, if the cashier is confused by the math, or just simply doesn't understand why you're giving them the extra cents in the first place - believe it or not, it could very well be the latter, especially if you hand them a bill, and then a minute later go, "Oh, I have 37 cents, just a second." (Particularly young people, first-time cashiers.)

And then, some people flat-out have a genuine difficulty with math regardless of really anything - no one's perfect, and it truly isn't the end of the world, or your problem.
 
1 - 20 of 78 Posts
Top