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Math in America: A Brief History...

posted 6/13/2009 10:52:32 AM |
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This is not mine, but it made me laugh so hard I just had to post it and share!

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in the teaching math since the 1950s...

1. Teaching Math In 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 1990s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok. )

6. Teaching Math In 2007

Un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

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Math in America: A Brief History...


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Jun 13 @ 11:02AM  
Very funny...........the joke not the situation with people not being able to count.

Jun 13 @ 11:18AM  
I love it. Funny and sad at the same time because it is so close to the truth!

Jun 13 @ 11:24AM  
You make me fell like crying , but not for the displaced squirrels and owls.

I have had Burger King moments like that. Especially since I haven;t been able to control the proliferation of pennies in my wallet. They seem to breed like rabbits. If only Lincoln could just keep it in his pants. I too have had to prompt them for the answer, and sometimes I can explain the math clearly enough that they do not have to call the manager...Sometimes that is...


Jun 13 @ 11:53AM  
I think the saddest thing that I ever, ever witnessed was a young sales clerk telling me that he couldn't sell me a half dozen candles. I said, do you sell them one at a time? "Yes" How much are they apiece? ".20 cents or 12 for $2" Ok so sell me a half dozen. "i can't sell you a half-dozen." Why? We either sell them one at a time or by the dozen. Ok.. so can you sell me six? Yes. But you can't sell me a half-dozen. No.

I never bought the candles. But I did leave a note for the manager.

Jun 13 @ 11:58AM  
I'm playing Diana Krall's "Cry Me A River" to mask my sobs!

A amusing as the story is, it makes a very sad statement concerning our educational system. As much as I enjoy observing nature, I do not ask any forest creatures for their opinions... it isn't germane to receiving correct change at a Burger King!

Jun 13 @ 12:01PM  
I have seen gas stations across the US that have cash registers that actually tell the clerk what to give back in change. 2 quarters 1 nickle 3 really screw some of them up if you come up with the correct change after they have rung in the amount in dollars you have given them. How sad.............

Jun 13 @ 12:13PM  
The really sad part is the 2007 math. I'm kinda like the Duke (John Wayne), could someone please tell me WHY I hafta dial 1 for English!

Jun 13 @ 12:15PM  
What I have noticed that fast food places, convenience stores, and dollar stores are doing around here is training staff (generally not Americans) to total the sale on the register, enter the amount tendered by the customer and then the register tells them the amount of change to be given.

About a year ago I got some coupons in the mail from Arby's. They come stuffed in with circulars from grocery stores. There were two sheets of them with several coupon offers on each. One sheet was the offers in English, the other Spanish.

I thought that Arby's sounded good, so I went to get a couple of subs with a buy one/get one free coupon. I took both sheets with me as I leave them in the car as that is where I always order fast food from. Additionally, by having both versions, if there is an offer I like, I have two coupons for it instead of one. I digress.

I placed my order and the young lady taking my order had a Spanish accent but spoke understandable English. When I got to window, I presented my coupon. Her odd expression told me what I needed to know; she could speak English, but couldn't really read it. Apparently, she was unaware of the promotion and was ill at ease and somewhat embarrassed. I was pissed at Arby's but not her personally, and masked my displeasure by politely asking for my coupon back while giving her the one written in Spanish. She smiled and thanked me with everything else going well.

After I ate my sandwiches, I called the 1-800 number on the receipt for comments or complaints. It was a generic voice mail and I explained my opinion in polite, but no uncertain, terms with a request for a return call. I never got one. There was a similar call over language issues at a Subway placed a few years ago and it never got returned either.

Jun 13 @ 12:53PM  
Although, WoW, it is a bit of a tangent, here's the same thing but from my view:

Several years ago while living in Italy, I took a trip North to Torino to stay with some friends. While there I happened to be walking past a hotel when some Americans not affiliated with the military (I, myself, was in civilian clothes and on leave) came out and began to ask the doorman for directions -- in English.

The doorman clearly had no idea what they were asking and they left in a huff. I'd stopped for the show and as they walked past me I heard one of them say "They KNOW Americans come here as tourists; you'd think they'd make them at least learn some of the language!"

A few years later and back in the States, I was waiting for a friend at the entrance to a large amusement park (King's Island in Ohio). As I stood there some Japanese tourists came and entered. At the entrance they were asking in very, very broken and mutilated English the directions for an attraction. The guy at the gate couldn't understand them and they bowed, thanked him and went their way.

As they left the guy turned to his buddy at the next gate and said "They KNOW they're coming to America. You'd think they'd at least try to learn the language!"

We have a cultural ethnocentrism, for sure. My own mother-in-law is fighting against my efforts to teach my son other languages. "English is enough!" she tells me in no uncertain terms.

Jun 13 @ 12:54PM  
But, more in line with what you were saying, certain "service industries" seem to be getting a LOT less serviceable these days.

Jun 13 @ 1:07PM  
the sad thing is i am one of those dyslexic math people. I struggle daily with basic counting. So you guys are correct it is sad. thanks roust. :)

Jun 13 @ 1:12PM  
I think the saddest thing that I ever, ever witnessed was a young sales clerk telling me that he couldn't sell me a half dozen candles. I said, do you sell them one at a time? "Yes" How much are they apiece? ".20 cents or 12 for $2" Ok so sell me a half dozen. "i can't sell you a half-dozen." Why? We either sell them one at a time or by the dozen. Ok.. so can you sell me six? Yes. But you can't sell me a half-dozen. No.

I never bought the candles. But I did leave a note for the manager.

Do you think I can be an asshole now, when provoked? Imagine what I was like about a quarter of century ago...

We had to replace some screens on our patio. I needed a 50 foot roll of screen mesh and just a few particle board screws. It was on the honey dew list to be completed that day so I went to the nearby building supplies store, Handy Dan (now deservedly out of business).

They were out of the 50 foot rolls, but did have one that was almost full being sold on a per foot basis. They were out of the screws in small packages as well as the bulk bin, but had them in the 100 count packages. I summoned the manager and asked about the items, particularly on the screen mesh pro rata.
He said, "Sorry, I can't do that." It was the same with the screws when I asked if he could open some of the 100 count packages and put them in the bulk bin.
I was not happy but made a compromise proposal, "How about selling me the entire partial roll of the screen mesh (about 40 feet) at the price of the 50 foot roll? After all, it isn't my fault that you are out of stock."
He said, "Sorry, I can't do that."
I replied, "I understand."

He left returning to his register and I took the roll of screen mesh and placed it in my cart, and some 100 count screws also. I then proceeded to go down several aisles getting various items and tossing them in the cart until it was full.
I then got in his line and waited until it was my turn. The first thing out of the cart was the screen mesh.
"Now, are you sure you can't sell this for the price of the 50 foot roll?"
He said, "Sorry, I can't do that."
I replied, "I understand."

I then placed every item in the cart up to be rung up. Once that was done and rang up, I said, "You know, I don't really find all of this to show good customer service."
"I''m sorry, sir."
"Yeah, I know you are, because you just lost a customer and are going to have to put all of this shit back up."
I proceeded walked out and he said angrily, "Come back here!!"
I said, "Sorry, I can't do that."

Jun 13 @ 1:17PM  
way to go Bruce!!!

Jun 13 @ 1:52PM  
Several years ago while living in Italy

It is rather sad, but Americans are viewed as nice, yet rude people abroad. They expect everybody to know English.

I have known many Europeans and it is not uncommon for them to be educated about facets of the US beyond pop culture than many Americans are.

Back in my show biz days I had to give a course in dining etiquette to our sound and lighting crew as we were going be be interspersed with executives at a formal trade show dinner with the majority of attendees being Europeans or Japanese. Following protocol for formal "continental" dining was essential.

The whole crew, many with four year degrees, sat down at a table, formally set for dining for my tutorial. The first thing I told them is that you never pick up a fork with your right hand and know passing utinsils between hands like when using a knife to cut meat. Six of them were dumbfounded, one was left handed, and the last one understood.

Following some grousing and bitching, I explained the, pardon the pun, foreign concept to them further that the utensils are presented in the order of use from the inside out (ie the salad fork is closest to the plate with the dinner fork to the left of it and dessert fork next to it). Glasses and cups are similarly presented in two arrays projecting outward at 45 degree angles from the plate in order of use. How to pass, request, and grab condiments was also a challenge. For example, if somebody asks to be passed the salt, you pass them both the salt and pepper.

They kind of got that and the concept that what is to the left of the plate is for the left hand and the same for the right. The three different styles of wine glasses threw all of them. But nobody could understand why you could not request coffee during the meal at a formal event.

I guess they all did pretty well as there was no report of anybody committing a faux pas. But there was one guy that had to be shown how to properly hold a fork.

Then there was the tale of another colleague of mine on tour with Aerosmith in Germany. He was in a restaurant and ordered a Budweiser. Well, Germany has purity laws on beer on what could be sold including the ingredients. Bud is not allowed due to including rice. He got pissed and then ordered whatever was the closest thing to Bud. The waiter brought him a glass of water.

Jun 13 @ 2:10PM  
In several European and African countries, English is a required course
for students..
I've been in several African, Asian and European countries where I could find someone who could speak passable English..And that was mostly in the late 60's and all of the 70's..

Jun 13 @ 2:14PM  
way to go Bruce!!!

I believe my wife at the time said the same thing with a different meaning when I explained the story and why I was late after traveling to another building supply store.

It was something like this...
"Way to go, Bruce. We have guests coming over in three hours for the barbecue and you haven't started on the screens yet. They should have been done already. I had asked you to fix them last week, remember? We planned this two weeks ago. But, no, it is more important for you to make your point than it is anything else..." It went on...and on...and on from there.

I knew enough to shut the fuck up and get the screens fixed while starting the grill. Fortunately, one of my strong suits is multi-tasking and everything came together on time and we had a very nice evening. She was even fun after the guests left.

Jun 13 @ 4:44PM  
Not being a world traveler, though I have been to parts of Europe (Italy and the Mediterranean parts of Europe mostly) and Jamaica in the Caribbean. One thing I noticed is in each of these countries we met and saw many people from all over Europe. There seems to be much more inter country travel and exposure to cultures, languages, and customs. I think that is wonderful Europe though is smaller than the US. We are separated by large oceans that have until after WWII kept us isolated in a sense from other countries. Comparatively few Americans have been out of the country than Europeans. This could be part of the reason me are so ignorant of others and expect everyone to speak English. Not the International language for airline pilots and pilots who guide ships into ports and through canals is English.

I am not trying to justify this in any way.Just thinking about it and wondering why. A bad habit of mine as many have noticed here. In Southwest from Texas to California the native born and longtime residents accept and adopt many of the cultures and customs of Mexico. Parts of the language is also incorporated into everyday speech an signs. In Texas and California, the farther north you go the less you see this. In South Texas it is relatively common to see bi-lingual whites and African Americans. Same in true, but wider spread in New Mexico and Arizona lags behind, but Arizona is an immigrant state, meaning people coming her from other places in greater numbers than are born here. Out two most common points of origin are Illinois and Minnesota.

I guess I am asking do you think that the closeness, size and age of Europe compared to the US has something to do with this? I am not defending,again, just asking.

Jun 13 @ 6:05PM  
Visualone makes very good valid points. We live in border states that have seen heavy migration. I cannot speak for Arizona, but suspect it is the same pattern, perhaps a bit delayed.

In Texas through the mid seventies onward, their was a heavy migration here from other states, particularly the Great Lakes and Northeast. Without explaining it, my personal opinion is that the fusion was very positive for all concerned in Texas with the meld of the diversity and cultures from other parts of the nation. The migration of people, legally and illegally, from south of the border also rose during this period and exponentially continues to do so.

This began to change in Texas in the nineties. The migration trends cited above continued but with the significant addition of legal immigrants from across the globe, perhaps a side bar, as a result of the global economy.

Good or bad, there is diversity. My area today has no majority, but rather a plurality as there is not a dominant race or ethnic group. Within two miles of me there are, beyond the traditional American chains, full sized supermarkets catering to; the Hispanic, Asian, Arab, and Indian customers.

My point is that in the southern states there are vast changes demographically occurring. The further north you go, the less the impact. Not to be judgmental, but many of the immigrants come from tropical or warmer climates. Our weather is a more attractive, perhaps a more familiar climate.

do you think that the closeness, size and age of Europe compared to the US has something to do with this?

I feel the age and stable maturity of the nations is a definite factor. This is just an opinion, largely based on conversations Europeans, mostly executives, so it doesn't deserve too much weight. Europe has largely had a very fixed and rigid immigration policy for...hell,,,ever. It is much looser, compared to other European nations, in the UK and France under Commonwealth provisions, mostly after WW II when there was a breakdown in their individual colonization.

But there a major intervening variable. In Europe, where you are seeing migration and issues is largely a result of the EEC combined with the fall of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Due to geography and culture, it is a bigger issue for Germans.

Now, I am going to stop here on this. It is an issue that I am up on due to my profession. But to elaborate on AMD would seem to me to be irrelevant and of very little interest to our readership.

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Math in America: A Brief History...