I was in a shop earlier this morning, and I saw an elderly man trying to buy something that cost £99.99. The shop was advertising a 10% discount on all items over £50 for one day only.
The electronic tills had failed, and the young (about 25 yrs) assistant was trying to calculate 10% of £99.99. 'It's £9.99' said the man, 'I owe you £90'. We waited, while the assistant laboriously made the calculation with a hand-held calculator. He got there in the end, but it was a real eye-opener.
They say that in a recent survey of 15-year-old children conducted in 65 countries the UK was 26th in maths, 23rd in reading and 20th in science. We came a long way behind Shanghai, for instance.
My wife is better than me on calculation when shopping and usually knows how much the total will be before the till receipt is handed to her.
This downward trend has sadly been going on for some years now. I believe it should be mandatory that young children starting school should have a good grounding in the essential three R's that later schooling and life will demand. Once a good grounding standard is reached then the modern gadgets, like calculators, can be then be used in higher education.
FE, I'd wager that old gentleman certainly remembered his early teaching which obviously included mental arithmetic. TC.
Gadgetry ,that is a valid point,'txt' language is a recent variant of the written one and lends itself to speed,like the shorthand used by secretaries,that may indicate why spelling is a problem,transliterating from what they read and write on a phone to writing an exam paper. I recall a text message sent to a workmate,about seven years ago, which was impossible to decipher,degree in cryptanalysis or not.
When I were just a lad (1960) all we had was as set of 4 figure tables by Godfrey & Siddons (with the back page of formulas removed). All exam questions were written so that if you knew how to work out the answer then mysteriously things cancelled out and you ended up with a simple sum.
We were taught a lot of mental shortcuts on how to deal with base10, base 11, base12 and even base16 numbers.
We did not have the modern 'sound byte' mentality that I think stops people from concentrating now days, no wall to wall coloured video images only National Geographic magazine, even the comics only had colour on the front page.- weren't weren't we done by!