The Proof of the Educational Pudding . . . at the Checkout

Let’s see!! Where can we see the fruits of our maths education?

Standardized tests?

VCE Exams?

School reports?

Parent-Teacher Interviews?

No, no, no! Where better than  . . . at the supermarket checkout?

Yes. Especially when the checkout person has to do some sort of MENTAL calculation about whether the change is correct, or the discount, or the size, or . . .

Just as soon as the “electronic robot” (i.e. the cash register or computer) goes down for some reason, the evidence becomes glaringly obvious.

The maths of today’s schools is NOT teaching students mental calculations to any useful level whatsoever.

Sure, students have access to calculators, tablets, computers and the like at school. But NOT elsewhere!

AND, an innate ability to manage mental calculations in many aspects of life helps each of us to make sense of many a mathematical query.

Be it estimating a price, or a measurement, or a discount. Or making a realistic comparison between two similar items for value. Or preparing a “thumbnail budget” on the back of an envelope at a restaurant. Without the skill of performing a quick mental calculation, an important “tool of life” is missing.

In days gone by, 10 minutes of each morning in a primary school class was spent chanting tables and working through a checklist of quick mental arithmetic responses, all of which was designed to equip students with some of the maths basics.

Is there room in today’s busy, hectic, complex educational system for this sort of mental training?

Hopefully, your answer is a resounding “Yes”!!

Or is it? What’s YOUR view?

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