Why do Americans Stink at Math? is the question a New York Times article asks in an article that I read on the airplane. Check it out here New York Times article.
As reported by the NYT, better ways to teach math has been invented several times in the USA, and applied successfully elsewhere in the world but not here. And school kids with poor math skills turn into adults that are shockingly innumerate. From the article : A 2012 study comparing 16-to-65-year-olds in 20 countries found that Americans rank in the bottom five in numeracy .. One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.
Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.