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These Kids Today


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#1 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 12:24 PM

Okay, it's not just these kids today. Most people my age have the same problem, and I'm 47. I had cruel parents who expected me to learn things though, and this is one of the things I learned at their insistence.

I was just at John Deere buying filters and hydraulic fluid (and a keychain and a hat because they leave out where I can see them). The kid behind the counter was quick on the computer and found the filters I needed in a blink, even though I doubt he was out of diapers when the 420 was built. He was good though, quick and polite.

He tallied up all my purchases and I handed him a $100 dollar bill. He looked at it nervously, then looked at me, then looked at the guy he was working with, who said, "I wish they'd fix that." Apparently the computer doesn't tell them how much change to give back. The kid looked baffled and asked where the calculator was. His co-worker just shrugged.

"I can teach you how to do that," I said.

The kid looked even more nervous, possibly because a greasy, toothless man was offering to teach him how to count money. When I look in the mirror I often think that I wouldn't trust me either, so I understand his reluctance. He finally agreed though, no knowing what else to do.

"How much does the bill say?" I asked.

"$72.48," he said.

"So two pennies will make $72.50," I said.

The kid nodded.

"And fifty cents will make $73.00...." I continued

The light went on in the kid's eyes. "So two makes it $75.00," he said hesitantly, looking at me for approval. I nodded. "And five makes $80.00 and twenty makes $100.00." He had one of those big grins that you can't manage after the age of 25 or so.

"No complicated math," I said.

As I was leaving, he was showing his buddy how to do, "This really neat trick." Excellent, now the kids on the parts counter at John Deere can count change.

Now I see two problems here. The first is that nobody is teaching anybody how to count change. It isn't taught in schools, if the kid's parents are my age they likely never learned it either, and their boss (who left them in charge of the cash) never taught them and likely doesn't know either.

The second is that nobody uses cash anymore. Everybody uses credit cards or debit cards. Even if they do use cash, it's always twenties out of a bank machine instead of fifties or hundreds. A hundred dollar bill is a frightening foreign object to these kids, so they're trying to do math while intimidated by the denomination. They get very little exposure to actual cash in reasonable amounts. That scares me because if you don't have cash and the computers go down, even just for an hour, you have no way to pay for anything.
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#2 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 12:52 PM

It all goes back to the computer. It 'normally' tells them what change to give back. If it doesn't, they are lost. The younger generation has too much tied up in calculators and computers to do it the 'old' way. Schools aren't teaching the kids the right things, too much higher math, English, and such. The schools are trying to prep kids for college that 75% never attend.

#3 tinner OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 01:03 PM

If you really want to throw them a curve ball do like I did when getting my truck inspected yesterday. The cost was $14.50 so I laid out 2 dimes, 1 nickle, one quarter, four one dollar bills and a twenty. The guy tried to give me six dollars back. I had to explain to him what I did and he couldn't quite understand why I would go to all that trouble to get a ten back. I explained that I had too much change and too many one dollar bills in my pocket and he looked at me kinda funny and said oh.

#4 GTTinkerer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 01:51 PM

Problem is schools are teaching kids how to pass a SAT test which includes Algebra and the SAT test will be the last time 90% of them will ever need Algebra. Now Geometry is another thing since many of us use it everyday just to mow a lawn or build a widget.

Bill
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#5 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 03:12 PM

Problem is schools are teaching kids how to pass a SAT test which includes Algebra and the SAT test will be the last time 90% of them will ever need Algebra. Now Geometry is another thing since many of us use it everyday just to mow a lawn or build a widget.

Bill


I dunno, I find I use algebra...at least the basic solve for x stuff...pretty regularly, and I'm not exactly a college professor. It helps in building stairs and rafters, for instance. I don't think everybody needs to understand parabolic cures, I certainly never have, but there is value in algebra.

If you really want to throw them a curve ball do like I did when getting my truck inspected yesterday. The cost was $14.50 so I laid out 2 dimes, 1 nickle, one quarter, four one dollar bills and a twenty. The guy tried to give me six dollars back. I had to explain to him what I did and he couldn't quite understand why I would go to all that trouble to get a ten back. I explained that I had too much change and too many one dollar bills in my pocket and he looked at me kinda funny and said oh.


He'd likely never seen anybody do that before. I paid for beer with change yesterday and the kid was, by the expression on his face, wondering why I wasn't handing him bills, since I had to pull them out to get at my change. Well, we have coins for ones and twos up here and I had a pocket-full. I know it's supposed to be embarrassing to buy beer with change, but my pants were starting to make me look like a rap star or a plumber due to the extra weight. I'm too old to worry about whether the guy at beer store counter thinks I'm cool or not.

It all goes back to the computer. It 'normally' tells them what change to give back. If it doesn't, they are lost. The younger generation has too much tied up in calculators and computers to do it the 'old' way. Schools aren't teaching the kids the right things, too much higher math, English, and such. The schools are trying to prep kids for college that 75% never attend.


The computer might be part of it, but I worked in places with early electronic cash registers that did the math. Technically those are computers too...and likely why my generation is the first that doesn't know how to count change...but it isn't the technology, it's that nobody teaches it anymore. It's a simple thing...a "neat trick" as the kid said...but it is something that needs to be learned, and therefore taught. We're too lazy to teach it, so they're too lazy to learn it. Don't blame the technology when it's a human failing.

I think teaching kids higher math, English, and such should continue. They taught my parents those things and yet still had time to teach them to count change in school. My nieces and nephews took a keyboarding class though...basically typing...every year they were in high school. They grew up with computers. They can type faster than I can, and do it without breaking keyboards (I learned on old manual typewriters). Mostly they type with their thumbs on their smart phones now. Did they really need a course?

Two of my nephews and one niece grew up more or less like I did though. A little wild, an eye towards not spending any time in an office. You can bet they know how to count change because their parents taught them. It's a survival skill when buying well-used trucks on farms for cash, or running a bake sale for charity, or mowing lawns for spending money.

The rest though? Bright kids. Smart and hard-working. Most have worked retail jobs. Not a clue about dealing with cash. Nobody taught them. That's not the fault of the technology, it's the fault of all the adults who never took the time.
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#6 Amigatec OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 06:39 PM

If you really want to mess them throw a $50 on the counter next time. My first job was car hopping at Sonic Drivein, we carried changers on our side and I learned to count change quickly, but a $50 always threw me.

#7 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 07:12 PM

Rev, you hit the nails on the head. Cash is no longer king and these kids can't count.

I use my credit card as much as possible, because I pay of the balance monthly and I get something for using it. I used to use all cash as much as possible. I used to cash my check in person at the bank. Now it's direct deposit and rewards from the credit card.

I like how you showed him how to do it. He learned from you, that is a really good thing to pass on knowledge. Good for you.

#8 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2012 - 08:20 PM

Rev, you hit the nails on the head. Cash is no longer king and these kids can't count.

I use my credit card as much as possible, because I pay of the balance monthly and I get something for using it. I used to use all cash as much as possible. I used to cash my check in person at the bank. Now it's direct deposit and rewards from the credit card.

I like how you showed him how to do it. He learned from you, that is a really good thing to pass on knowledge. Good for you.

I like that "trick"! I'm not sure I've ever seen it expressed that way, though I have had cashiers count the change into my hands, more or less as you described. I typically use credit as much as possible since my card "rewards" me. But I have had cashiers look at me strangely when I thow in extra change so I can get a quarter or a dime back and get rid of some pennies.

#9 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 01:47 AM

Basic life skills in general, aren't being taught. My daughter and a couple of her classmates were struggling with learning the 9's times tables a few years ago.we were doing the flash card thing etc. After another round of " guessing" I finally asked her if " that equaled 9?". She looked at me funny, I think it was 9x9= ?82?... My Mom was there & showed her that each answer should equal 9 if you added the numbers.
9x9= 81. 8+1=9
9x3=27. 2+7=9

She showed her teacher, who thought it a neat "trick", but her classmates thought her a genius.

When did quick, easy ways of doing or remembering things become "cheating" or less valuable because it's not in the textbook?

The Pythagorean theorem (the 3,4,5 triangle ) has helped me square up everything from sheds to gardens without calculators or fancy gadgets, but it's barely touched on in school in a practical application way.
They beat the stuff into these kids without showing them how it can be useful, then wonder why the kids can't muster up giving 10 percent of a rats you-know-what about the topic.

OK, I'm down off the soap box.

#10 jdslednut OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 02:19 AM

Here in MN Economics is required for graduation but not Personal Finance. Sometimes the problem is with the folks making the laws with their disconnects to real-world applications.


#11 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 09:30 AM

And kind of on the same topic...

Do shop classes teach things like the use of a framing square, plumb bob, level, tape measure, etc.? They didn't when I was in school and I could never figure out why, since a lot of young people get into construction for their first job. Learning to use those tools also reinforces the need for math in the real world.
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#12 jdslednut OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 10:04 AM

I do my best to teach those things as I can fit them in with what else is required of me. My shop classes and other agriculture classes are HEAVY on math, mostly because it's a pet peeve of mine that our kids can do calculus but forget simple calculations. I have my kids figure out their bills of materials and do all of their own calcs on their construction projects (mostly welding). We also set up our plant sale as a businesss model and figure out break-evens, fertilizer calculations for lawn care, and geometry for pouring concrete and landscaping projects. It's a struggle I tell you, even with seniors. I supervise a lot of concession stands and the first thing I go through wih tme is counting back change. It's frustrating as heck that they haven't had these things by the time they are in high school. We could do so many more things if the basics were instilled at a younger age.
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#13 jpackard56 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 07:15 PM

It all goes back to the computer. It 'normally' tells them what change to give back. If it doesn't, they are lost. The younger generation has too much tied up in calculators and computers to do it the 'old' way. Schools aren't teaching the kids the right things, too much higher math, English, and such. The schools are trying to prep kids for college that 75% never attend.

I can't agree more, common sense and basic skills are fast becoming a memory... I am an instructor at a junior college and over 74% of the incoming freshmen can not pass an entrance test that covers adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing without a calculator. These are the same students that are coming out of high-school with a diploma indicating they are ready for the world...yes, it makes me very nervous about our future. :(
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#14 jpackard56 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 07:31 PM

Here in MN Economics is required for graduation but not Personal Finance. Sometimes the problem is with the folks making the laws with their disconnects to real-world applications.


The response from administrators is "we don't have time for that" ...silly me, I thought I was supposed to help mold responsible citizens...and all I'm really allowed to do any more is stuff'em down the chute so we can get some more FTE (full-time equivalency) money from the government... :(

Edited by jpackard56, June 10, 2012 - 07:32 PM.


#15 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted June 10, 2012 - 09:44 PM

...When did quick, easy ways of doing or remembering things become "cheating" or less valuable because it's not in the textbook?


You said the key words there! It's not in the textbook! They cannot regulate what the teachers are teaching that is not in the textbook. As a result of a very few bad eggs (and a few "overly" good ones) over the years, they're not allowed to deviate from what the books say!

The Pythagorean theorem (the 3,4,5 triangle ) has helped me square up everything from sheds to gardens without calculators or fancy gadgets, but it's barely touched on in school in a practical application way.


I was not acquainted with this method until I worked in fabricating at my current job! I was in my early 30's! This seems like a very useful piece of information to almost anyone, and yet I had to learn it "on-the-job". Thankfully I was taught by a Jouneyman Boilermaker who had the patience to teach!

They beat the stuff into these kids without showing them how it can be useful, then wonder why the kids can't muster up giving 10 percent of a rats you-know-what about the topic.


I struggled with algebra all through high school. It wasn't until I started my major in electronics that adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing letters made sense to me. I know that if I'd been shown the usefulness of it, I'd have gotten on to it much earlier and more easily!

The response from administrators is "we don't have time for that" ...silly me, I thought I was supposed to help mold responsible citizens...and all I'm really allowed to do any more is stuff'em down the chute so we can get some more FTE (full-time equivalency) money from the government... :(


My wife's best friend is a special education teacher who loves what she does and thrives on helping these less fortunate students achieve some level of self sufficiency and becoming contributing members of society. Even those students are force fed PSSA (read Pennsylvania's SAT) materials almost non-stop so that they can "score well" and get more revenue for the district. The PSSA tests contain almost NO useful life application materials! When will the lawmakers realize this?
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