I am terrible at math. Just can't do it. Not in my head, and barely on paper. With a calculator, it’s about 70/30 that I'll get the right answer. I once had to take some sort of psychological exam and during it I was asked to count backwards from 100 by seven's. I couldn't do it. When I admitted this, the test administrator looked at me like he was fitting me for a straight jacket.
Him: "You can't do it?" Incredulous tone of voice.
Me: "No." Meek tone of voice.
Him: "Just try." A hand motion to proceed.
Me: "I can't do it." Said after an awkward few minutes of staring blankly.
I wish I could say I made that up. Ah well.
Both my Dad and my fiancé can do some fairly complicated math in their heads. Stuff like figure out the tip at a restaurant, determine how old someone is if they know the year of the person’s birth, etc. I curse them regularly for this gene they have that I am apparently lacking.
I'm not embarrassed by this. Anymore. Over the years, I've come to accept that my brain is just not wired for numbers. It’s wired for stringing together words in a coherent, hopefully, pleasant fashion. For this, I am grateful.
During the past few days, I have completed a great many hours of training for the department store that hired me. This is all well and good. Training is important and I do want to know how to do my job efficiently and by the company's rules and regulations. Hey, I'm even being paid for the training time. A welcome bonus! So, of course, the trainers/human resources people are very conscious of the hours per day that I sit in front of one of their computers reading up on best practices, loss prevention, blood borne pathogens (heaven forbid someone cut themselves and bleed on me or another customer), proper stocking techniques and so on.
Sure, I get it. Keeping track of hours worked is very important. When I began my three days of requisite training, I was informed and understood that I would train for five hours each day and report in at 12:00 noon.
I'm not one for exaggeration, except to make a joke, but this is not one of those times. At least six different manager types came to me during my training to ask what time I'd arrived. Each time I told them 12 o'clock. Each of them then proceeded to count to five on their fingers in order to inform me that I had to leave at 5:00 p.m. Now, each time this happened, I watched in open-mouthed fascination. Even I can do that math! It really doesn't take an Einstein type to make this calculation.
These people were all younger than me, so my question is this: Is math still taught in school? Sure, it didn't work for me, but I can still figure out without thinking about it that five hours from noon is 5 o'clock. Maybe this means that something did, after all, sink in during all those hours of math lessons, tutors, crying sessions, and repeated attempts by friend and foe alike to explain it all to me.
I am saddened and more than a little horrified by what I unexpectedly learned during my three days of retail training.
So, I ask again with no little fear and trepidation:
Is math still taught in school?