Counting Out America

First, it was Johnny can’t spell. Then Johnny can’t read. Now, Johnny can’t count. Why has education in America failed?

Recently, we stopped at one of those local farm stands to pick up some fresh vegetables. We’ve been going to this same stand for many years. It’s one of those family owned farms where generations of the family all work.

After picking out a few items, we placed them on the counter. The young, high-school aged girl gave us the price.  Seeing another item we wanted, we added that to the pile.

Instant panic appeared on the girl’s face. She looked at the collection of vegetables then told us her phone wasn’t working right and she couldn’t figure out the total.

Now, we’re not talking about very complicated math here. We’re talking adding $3.50 and $1.75.

Couldn’t do it.

She was not some immigrant from a third-world country who suffered from a lack of educational opportunities. She was early teens and could not do basic math.

She could manage texting and Facebook I assume.

This was in a small town with a well-established school system. This particular town brags of being the birthplace of public education in America. Apparently, it has now reached the end of its life.

Everyone is quick to jump on the blame the school system bandwagon. In particular, those union teachers who do not educate kids or care about them. If this young girl couldn’t add it must be the teacher’s fault.

It is not.

This is a basic life skill. The ability to do simple math is critical in one’s day-to-day life. Understanding things like 10% off or what the cost of one apple is if it’s $1.00 for four is a common task.

Something a parent should instill in their children.

Yet, it would seem this girl’s family is satisfied with their child’s inability to do the most basic of tasks. They’re comfortable letting her rely on the increasingly pervasive cell phone.

Education is not something you send your children out to get, it is something you participate in and reinforce in your daily lives. Sending your children out unprepared and ill-equipped to do basic things is nothing less than child abuse.

Perhaps there will come a time when we can do away with education. Just have a one-day class on how to use a smartphone. Find all the answers in a Google query.

Who needs an education? We have a handheld surrogate.

It was evident in that farm stand that the future of America is on its final countdown to failure.

3 thoughts on “Counting Out America

  1. Your country’s not alone in this education slump, Joe. Canada is “considered” one of the most advanced countries when it comes to health and education (and, no, it’s not all free up here 🙂 but the same dismal trend of minimal standards and results from our public school system is alive & well north of 49.

    Yesterday, my daughter who’s 27 and ten years past high school, whipped out her iPhone to do a simple division calculation. I made some comment about doing it in her head or on paper and she told me she was never taught long-division in school -it was elective to do “advanced mathematics” and she saw no need to learn it because of calculators.

    Maybe I’m old school but I’m not sure this computer age serves us all that well.

  2. Math was never one of my favorites but if long division is considered “advanced” mathematics the dominance of free societies is soon to decline.
    As the meme goes, “Another Day passes by and I didn’t need Algebra once,” basic math skills are important.

    Yet, because of things like the abbreviations to live within 144 character tweet, spelling, math, and even the ability to carry on a thoughtful conversation are fading away.

    Soon there’ll be no one left to read our books.

  3. I’ve seen the same with the math skills. We have a Mennonite stand we get vegetables from, no problems with doing addition in their heads, there. In Ohio, there’s a push and a backlash on Charter schools, and those private on-line academies. At the moment, there’s a court battle over the schools releasing the time sheets showing how much time the kids actually spend on the online academy curriculum, There are several lawsuits over misspent public funds on failing charter schools. Not encouraging by any means.

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