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To expect an understanding of basic maths in shops?

(27 Posts)
Aka Tue 22-Apr-14 14:05:45

Visited out local M&S food today. Special offers £10 for three instead of £4 each. Checking my bill on way out of shop noticed I'd been charged full price. After a lot of fuss managed to get someone to, reluctantly, agree to a refund.

That'll be £3.25 we owe you he said confused fiddling with till
No, you owe me £2.....more fiddling with till
That'll be £2.25 we owe you then hmm still fiddling with till
No, £4x3=£12. So if it's 3 for £10 that's £12-£10=£2

So we owe you £3.25 then? shock

I give up and take the £3.25 because factoring in my time yes, they do owe me!! wink

Dragonfly1 Tue 22-Apr-14 14:10:22


granjura Tue 22-Apr-14 14:16:18

I went to buy some material soon after metrication came in. The price on the roll was £4.20 a metre- and i bought 1.5m- it took the girl about 10 minutes to work out the price. I finally lost patience and said 'it is 4.20 + half again, 2.10 = 6.30. Wow she said, I did you work it out so quickly !?!

grannyactivist Tue 22-Apr-14 15:21:24

Rest assured that mental maths is being taught again in primary schools and in the future this sort of experience should be a thing of the past. smile

granjura Tue 22-Apr-14 15:45:15

Mind you, there was a time when it was impossible to work the price of carpeting. Sold by the linear foot, in 3, or 4 metre widths and with the price advertised per square yard! For a few years after metrication came in- at least that seems to have been corrected smile

Both systems, Imperial and Metric, have their strengths, but mixing is a total disaster.

harrigran Tue 22-Apr-14 18:26:03

I have never seen any evidence of mental arithmetic in GD's school, they make them work out by such complicated methods that she gets completely lost. last week she told me that £25 + £1.50 + 67p was £79 and I couldn't convince her otherwise.

Aka Tue 22-Apr-14 18:26:39

GA I put the problem to my 7- year old GS, who is not (mathematically speaking) the sharpest knife in the drawer. He worked it out in less than a minute. It is taught at primary school but what about secondary level?

MiniMouse Tue 22-Apr-14 18:30:49

I've just recently had a letter from Domestic & General trying to get me to insure my cooker. Now maths was never my strong point, but even I can manage to work this one out!

Their kind offer is: 12 calendar monthly payments of £4.95 or

1 annual payment of £69.48 confused

I wonder how many people have fallen for it??

goldengirl Tue 22-Apr-14 21:00:04

I bought 2 t shirts last year in a well known clothing shop. The choice was 2 for £10 or 3 for £15 ! Now I never got maths O level but even I could see the anomaly - or was it just a ploy for the unthinking?

rosequartz Tue 22-Apr-14 23:06:15

Judging by the level of the arithmetic of shop assistants in some of the above posts, they would think they were getting a bargain, goldengirl. I bet the real bargain was one for £5.

goldengirl Wed 23-Apr-14 18:44:40

I have to admit that when I got a holiday job in the chemists it was the first time I had to deal with money 'for real' and I had no idea how to work out change. I used to write it down on paper and take one away from the other until the boss took me aside and taught me to count 'backwards'. We had numerous sessions until I got the hang of it confused

Brendawymms Wed 23-Apr-14 19:20:40

Math is taught in school today in a way that makes it very complicated. There are, after all, only nine numbers and a zero to work with.

Purpledaffodil Wed 23-Apr-14 19:41:38

Sorry, I have to disagree re modern primary maths teaching. Granted it is different to the way I learnt but in the main it is logical and provides visual ways of understanding. Open number lines, partitioning, none of these were around when I was a child but they make sense in calculation. And there is masses of mental arithmetic in the primary curriculum too. It takes precedence over paper and pencil methods for younger children. And they still learn tables, so theregrin

Penstemmon Wed 23-Apr-14 20:41:36

I agree with purple My DGCs are very good mathematicians (5 and 8 yrs) and are being well taught. Oldest is able to problem solve by applying what she knows about the 4 rules and can do quite complex mental maths including x tables!!

Aka Wed 23-Apr-14 21:32:03

Purple and Pen there is a lot of good maths teaching in primary schools, but there is a lot of confusion among parents that it is somehow different from the way they were taught.
Modern ways of teaching maths (as mentioned by you both) started in the 70s with the advent of 'Fletcher Maths' and has gone from strength to strength. Yes, it's very different from the way I was taught in the 50s but the answers are still the same.
My OP though was talking about an adult, working in retail, who appeared completely mathematically illiterate. If my 7-year old GS, at level 3B, is very average for his age, this young many was functioning at a level of an average 6 year old!

Penstemmon Wed 23-Apr-14 21:45:54

Flecher maths was dreadful! I remember those orange books, so much colouring in!!! But I agree maths is well taught in most schools now.

Perhaps the young man was just not very mathematically able or gets flustered with numbers when under pressure. I was like that , still am up to a point, because of poor maths teaching in the 50s early 60s. ( I missed a year out at school which did not help!)

Aka Wed 23-Apr-14 21:50:12

Dreadful it might have been, but it was the harbinger of a new approach and I remember different colour books for different levels, but perhaps you mean the workbooks.

The young man (in his 20s) was definitely 'not very mathematically able' if he can't work out 3x4 and 12-10 grin

rosequartz Wed 23-Apr-14 22:29:27

I think the problem is that the till does the calculations for them. It is only when things go wrong that they need to use their brain to work something out, which is probably not very often. Most people would pay with a card these days so there is no need to calculate anything at all, therefore some of them have lost the ability to do simple arithmetic. Use it or lose it as they say.

Deedaa Wed 23-Apr-14 23:06:37

When I was managing a café in Cornwall we had a lot of trouble when cashing up because the money was always wrong. I stood and watched one od the girls working and realised that, although an apparently bright 16 yearold expected to pass all her GCSE's including maths, she didn't know where to put the decimal point when adding up money! And this was a girl who had grown up with decimal coinage.

durhamjen Wed 23-Apr-14 23:53:22

Do you not think it's a problem of most children these days not dealing with money when they are younger?
They may go shopping with their parents but pay by card. I have a tray full of real coins for the grandchildren to play shopping games with. The six year old loves playing because she gets to take home the money when she gets it right. She'd play every day if she could, but I limit it to once a week.
We went to the coffee shop after school today, and her brother worked out the change. I have been teaching him about money for a couple of weeks, and he has managed to remember it over the holidays, so I was really pleased. He's twelve but has ASD.

durhamjen Wed 23-Apr-14 23:56:26

My kids liked Fletcher maths. You could do it at your own pace and were not held back by those who did not understand.
My elder son has A level maths and his brother a degree in engineering, so they obviously did not suffer from it.

Aka Thu 24-Apr-14 06:00:46

I think children enjoyed Fletcher for just those reasons but it was some teachers who found it hard to cope with, especially traditionalists.

Purpledaffodil Thu 24-Apr-14 07:58:13

I think you may have hit on the answer durhamjen. Money handling is very much a 'real world skill'. I moved from a school where many children were used to going down to the corner shop for a pint of milk and the odd illegal packet of twenty, to one where children were not given such freedom, for various reasons of distance and parental anxiety. In the first school children were much better at handling money and counting change. I generalise of course, but there was a startling difference. Good idea re the money tray and one I shall borrow for DGS!

shysal Thu 24-Apr-14 08:06:21

My previous boss used to buy Kit Kats at the Hospital League of 'Fiends' shop. When he bought 10 bars, the lady wrote down the price 10 times and added them up! Perhaps she hasn't got to grips with decimels yet!

rosesarered Thu 24-Apr-14 09:34:49

I think durhamjen has it right, not enough money handling from a young age.We used to have our busfare, and went to buy sweets [or items of shopping for parents.]Even though we rarely had much coinage of our own, we knew the precise value of [especially sweets] and goods in the shops from a young-ish age, certainly by 7 to 8 years old, even without any sums at school.Although it's probably taught well in primary school, I think they forget by age 15, as more complicated maths has taken over in their minds. Tills tell the exact change to give and they hand that over without a thought[even when it's wildly wrong.]A few years ago I handed back £5 to the girl on the till at Woolworths as she gave me too much change, and she just rammed it into the drawer and glared at me affronted!However, the young chap at M&S that served AKA was in a league of his own I think, as that was such an easy amount, ie. full charge £12 special offer £10. I used to play shops with my DGS with real money [which he loved, and was keen to take some home.] He has Autism and I thought it would help, however he won't play it now and has lost all interest in money, to the point where he just drops it in the car if I give him any for his piggy bank, but I may have another go to interest him in it, by letting him pay for something in the shop [if he will] and asking him if the change is correct.Oscar Wilde said that some people 'know the price of everything, but the value of nothing' now some people don't even know the prices. grin