“Math illiteracy is okay, yet let someone pronounce or misspell a word and noses are tooted in the air…”
Innumeracy at the sales
One of my favourite times of year is sales time! Of course I love grabbing a great bargain, but the arithmetician within me loves working out the sale prices and trying to find that elusive item that is actually 70% off. I also get a bit smug when my friends say,” it’s an extra 20% off 50%, that means it’s 70%” – No it’s not it’s 60% (20% of 50 is 10.)
Apart from sales shopping, here are 4 more reasons, based on research published on the ScienceDaily website, why being innumerate can cause problems for you and your family.
Innumeracy can make you poorer
Couples who score well on a simple test of numeracy ability accumulate more wealth by middle age than couples who score poorly on such a test, according to a new study of married couples in the United States.
Numeracy is needed in choosing everything from credit cards to mortgage payments, from shopping bargains to saving options, and of course the hardest one – choosing a mobile phone plan. It’s not just about knowledge of fractions, decimals and percentages from when you were at school, it’s having had enough practise and exposure to numbers to feel comfortable to “take them on” when you need to make those all important financial decisions.
Innumeracy can make you unhealthier
In one of the most rigorous studies ever conducted to determine how well people comprehend the information provided on food nutrition labels, researchers have found that the reading and math skills of a significant number of people may not be sufficient to extract the needed information, according to an article published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
You all know you should be reading and comparing food labels, especially when products labelled as low fat are instead high in sugar, and when a cereal bar can claim to be “90% fat free”. With fast food restaurants also publishing nutritional information in their stores and online, solid numeracy skills could help you make the right food choices.
Innumeracy can make you misunderstand important information
Quickly now, which is a higher risk that you will get a disease: 1 in 100; 1 in 1,000, or 1 in 10? Choosing the correct answer depends on a person’s numeracy — the ability to grasp and use math and probability concepts, according to a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The media loves bombarding you with statistics, especially ones that appear to prove their chosen headlines. Your whole perception of the world around you changes if you can’t understand those statistics and what they really mean. A high level of numeracy will help with forming opinions and making decisions big and small.
Innumeracy can be passed down through the generations
The amount of time parents spend talking about numbers has a much bigger impact on how young children learn mathematics than was previously known. For example, children whose parents talked more about numbers were much more likely to understand the number principle that states that the size of a set of objects is determined by the last number reached when counting the set.
You all know that you should be talking to your children, even before they’re born, but talking to them about maths – even I was surprised at that one! Of course it makes sense, many nursery rhymes are number based (Baa baa black Sheep, Ten in a Bed, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe). Try talking about sizes, shapes and numbers as well as sharing preschool maths activities with your little ones.
Do you think society ignores innumeracy? Tell me in the comments below!