a product of the american school system

So Better Half and I were at Wal-Mart yesterday evening, and we just happened to be present when the management announced that all red-tag (clearance) items were an additional 50% off.  We had passed up a few things when shopping earlier, but decided to go ahead, circle back, and pick up those items, and then we headed for the cash registers. 

… Where we found out that Wal-Mart does not actually have the system mark all these items down, nor is there a “50% Off” button on the cash register; instead, the cashier has to hand-enter the new prices of the items. 

And he could not.  Oh, sure, he could figure out that half of 2 is 1, but he could not successfully divide 1.75, 3, 3.5, 4, or pretty much any other number by 2.  Not “he was slow about it”; rather, he simply could not.  I have no idea how old he was, but I am guessing he graduated high school, or is at least old enough to do so… 

I would weep for our future if I was surprised by this. 

5 thoughts on “a product of the american school system”

  1. This reminds me of my experience at KFC last year. Simple subtraction, and she needed a calculator, and then had obvious issues with counting out the change.

    I would weep for our future if I was surprised by this.

    I’m trying to think of a comment to that, and find myself unable to do anything but nod in agreement.

  2. I meet the cousin here in Texas — a young lady (19) had trouble understanding that “combination” meant the same thing as “combo” — as in “I’ll have the small #12 combination meal with regular french fries and a coke”.

    It took 3 minutes for me to get her to understand what I was referring to.

  3. @ Jake: To be fair, when I got to Georgia Tech and had to go through the gamut of all the various flavors of Calculus, I used to joke about being able to do differentials and integrations in my head but needing to whip out the calculator for basic addition and subtraction – everyone has their off days.

    But, yeah, having a systemic deficiency when it comes to basic mathematical functions to the point of being simply incapable of operating in the normal world, or doing your job without your customers assisting you? That is a damned huge problem.

    @ Bob S.b: It will be interesting to see how the degrading quality of the language on the internet affects the language as a whole, or if it will in general. Lord knows we are not far removed from “monkey see, monkey do”, and constantly being immersed in that kind of dissolving grammatical structure has to do something, I would think. But things like your example really make me wonder what it is schools are teaching these days…

    On a completely unrelated note, the auto-fill settings of your browser seem to believe there should be an extra “b” at the end of your username.

  4. “You can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.” — Robert Heinlein

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