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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Indiana Means Corn

It's corn time! This year I thought I'd buy some to put up in the freezer. We eat a lot of corn, and end up buying a lot of canned corn. Even though we buy the low-sodium versions, I still think we can do better (and it will taste better) if we freeze our own.

One of the things I've really enjoyed this summer is going to the Farmer's Market on Tuesday mornings. Less than half of the Saturday vendors set up, but the ones I usually patronize are usually there. Our Farmer's Market is only open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Fridays actually have fewer vendors open than Tuesday, and Saturday is insanely busy.

This morning, I headed out there to buy some corn. Since I've never actually bought it in bulk and frozen it, I wasn't sure how much I would need to make this a worthwhile project. My usual produce vendor didn't have corn today, but the stand next to it did. Their sign read 3 for $1.00. As I stood there pondering, the young (20ish) man asked if he could help. I told him I was trying to decide how much to buy since I wanted to freeze it. He waited patiently, but didn't offer any suggestions as to how much it would yield. It would have been helpful, but I wasn't surprised. Finally, I just said to give me $20.00 worth. He pulled out his cardboard sign and looked it over for a few minutes. He then called across the aisle to an older gentleman and asked him how much for 20. The man replied that 21 would be $7.00, so around $6.70. I interrupted to say not 20 ears of corn, $20.00 worth. Out came the cardboard sign again. I mentioned that since it was 3 for $1.00 and I was buying $20.00, then it would be 60 ears of corn.

Around the corner came a 40ish woman who asked the young man what he was doing, he explained that I wanted to purchase $20.00 worth of corn. She went right to her calculator. I said nothing because I was thinking there must be some kind of quantity discount and they were trying to figure out exactly how much corn to give me. After a few minutes of her playing with the calculator and the man, who had now pulled out a pencil, doing the math by hand on his piece of cardboard, I heard the woman tell him that it would be 30 ears of corn. Once again, I interrupted to say that if it was 3 for $1.00 and I wanted $20.00 worth wouldn't that be 60 ears of corn? She looked at me for a minute. Tapped some more numbers in her calculator and agreed with me.

I stood there in disbelief. They had actually spent all this time trying to do such basic math, not trying to calculate some kind of discount like I had assumed. As a teacher, you can imagine how disappointing it was to see. Not being able to handle this level of math is the equivalent of math illiteracy. We're not talking Algebra or Calculus or Geometry. We are talking basic multiplication.

I shared this story with Jim so he can pass it on to his students. They don't want to be either party in this scenario. They don't want to be the retailer who tried to charge me double, nor would they want to be the customer who would pay double. You lose in both cases.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Blogger Tammie said...

Oh dear Lord! I'm no mathematician, but even I can figure out the problem here.

OTOH, I love the idea of you putting up your own corn for the winter.

Blogger a Tonggu Momma said...

I am a Complete Math Idiot and even I could figure that one out. It's simple subtraction, y'all.

(Joke. That was a joke.)

Blogger Two Pearls said...

And we wonder why we can't balance a budget or figure out how to pay for health care in this country! That's the sad part...even if someone out there can figure out how to pay for it, no one would understand or believe it.

20+ yrs ago, as a college senior, I took a course in Retailing, because hey, I love to shop, and it conveniently was scheduled on top of marching band practice. I can't tell you how many seniors in the business program couldn't calculate markup and markdowns! You know, you buy something for $2 and want to get a 30% margin on it when you resell it? The prof went ballistic and sent the few of us who "got it" away for a few weeks while he pounded it into everyone else's head...sad.

Blogger Kiy said...

Oh TM, I laughed and laughed (and even before you said joke ... do I get bonus points?).

Magi, that should be an amazing story but I keep running into the same kinds of things around here. And our schools are rated some of the best in the state. And I think WA State has some of the best in the nation (or was, when we moved here). But if it makes you feel any better, the English teachers aren't getting through either. Alot sends me right over the edge. It's TWO words people! Their, there and they're ... don't even get me started. I too am math impaired, but I found myself doing the math (in my head, no less) along with your story.

Sad, just plain sad that these kids are allowed to graduate high school. They aren't being done any favors, these kids need to be able to exist out in the real world. I keep looking at schools for Emi (and now that we are moving, all my research gets tossed out the window and I get to start all over again). I still don't know what to do about her. Our best guess right now is to do public schools (supposedly where we are moving the schools are pretty good), with some home teaching from Jeff and I. Which, isn't that the way it should be?

Wow, this was a novel. Guess it hit a nerve. :)



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