Why we need to beef up math in the schools

I'm not even talking about my own numeral difficulties, which are real and varied, on account of having never actually learned the complete times tables since I switched schools just after we covered the 9s. Sigh . . . it ever plagues me, my ignorance of how 12 interacts with the other numbers. Not enough to get me to LEARN it, mind you.

Anyway. This is about a couple situations my coworkers recently found themselves in.

Coworker #1 attended a football game last night and was fortunate enough to sit in front of an obscenities-bellowing man. I'm sure you'll agree they make the best company. At one point the guy started yelling the following, over and over again:

"$&@% %$#@, you *%$#!!!! You can't just play two-thirds, you need to play the WHOLE HALF!!!"

Um . . . . because a half is . . . more . . . than two-thirds?

Coworker #2 then spoke of her experience in some big retail store where candy sticks were advertised as being 10 cents each OR 2 sticks for $.25. She asked the saleswoman about this and the woman seriously did not see what the problem was. She kept reassuring my coworker that it's cheapest to buy 2 sticks for 25 cents because that was a deal.

I weep for us. No wonder our economy is tanking.


Gretchen said... [reply]


I think this kind of stuff is the reason that it is cheaper at my grocery store to buy Mac'N'Cheese (I know, the shame...) one box at a time than it is to buy the "economy pack." Am I the only one who notices it? Or am I just the only one with enough mathematical ability to realize it???

Mary said... [reply]

Okay, not that I'm defending potty mouth guy, but since there are two halves in a football game, with a break in between them that they call "halftime," could he not be referring to playing through the entire half with a "whole" effort?

You know what, forget it. I can't be nice to everyone.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Mary, I wondered that two. Like, could he have meant 2/3 of the half?

Jon Boy said... [reply]

Yeah, that's what I would've thought.

Nemesis said... [reply]

I mean, "I wondered that too." Not so much "two." Hoo boy . . .

Spitfire said... [reply]

I also wondered that, but I wasn't going to mention it since you don't exactly watch sports or care. :)

taturner said... [reply]

I wondered the same thing, but it's much more fun to just assume that the guy is an idiot. Let's do that.

coolmom said... [reply]

Does anyone know what 2/3's of a half is? Think fast!!! Too slow!! Now I'm confused. But, my serious pet peeve of all time is people who can't count change. Not only can they don't count back the change to the total of what you gave them, they can't even count back the leftovers. But a girl in Wal-mart actually did it the other day. Miracles still happen.

taturner said... [reply]

2/3 of 1/2 means,
2/3 x 1/2 = 2/6 = 1/3

2/3 of a half (of a football game) would be 20 minutes:
2 x 30 (minutes) = 60 / 3 = 20.

Janssen said... [reply]

We went to the San Francisco farmer's market recently and there they were selling some item (can't even remember what now) for "one for a dollar, two for a dollar, three for a dollar, or four for a dollar." Well then.

Saxon said... [reply]

Maths isn't too well over here either. I was in a Shop buying something for £8, I gave the assistant £10 at which point she asked for help from the manager saying she didn't know how much change to give me as the till didn't tell her.

amyjane said... [reply]

Yeah only, being one who overhears the sports talk often, I don't think the first example had anything to do with math. The guy was yelling for his team to go the distance, to play to the end of the HALF, and instead he felt that they were quitting 2/3 into said half. Sad that that makes sense to me. Anyway, when they're all sports brained, they can't think about math anyhow.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

I'm hoping to get certified for math in the next couple of years. I will force my students to memorize up the the fifteens.



It is only as smart as the person pushing the buttons, who more often than not pushes them incorrectly.

Taturner has the right answer, and maybe obscenity-fan is too. If you only play 20 minutes out of 60 would be very bad for winning. But what I really want to know is why in other English speaking countries (Britain, NZ and Australia at least) do they refer to the subject as "Maths?" or the letter "Z" as "Zed?"

The world may never know.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

PS I've heard that in grocery stores, they try to trick you into buying a certain size by taking the price down a nickel and putting a big pink sign on it, when if you actually look at the price per ounce, another size box might actually be cheaper.

Lisa said... [reply]

This is the funniest, "sad but true" story I've heard in a long time. Thanks for the laugh!

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