Happy and or Random Thoughts

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A girl who must have been about 18 today asked me how many feet were 72 inches. She really wanted to know. She had a catalog in her hand. I guess she wanted to order something that was that tall, and she needed to know if it would fit in her house or whatever. How many people do you suppose don't know the answer to the question? Do you suppose it is different in Canada or England? Do you think they know how many decimeters in three meters? My experience is that they know how to measure in feet and meters better than Americans. But I wonder. I have not spent that much time anywhere.


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Yes, will35. It's completely amazing how many people somehow missed fundamental, I mean, total basics of an adequate education. I don't know about Americans versus others, but here's an observation. Everybody I know from a foreign country is at least moderately good at speaking and/or reading English. 25% of American adults are functionally illiterate in English. :shock: Think about it. I know my foreign friends are probably not representative of the population as a whole. But still. I wonder if there are stats out there about the relative literacy rates in various countries. Hmm. :?


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:D I love you, too. :D

And I can't stand unanswered questions, so here goes. I found beaucoup websites. I won't bore you with them, because many of them are government reports -- long and boring! :x Here's the bottom line.

In the world overall, the US has a not bad literacy rate -- about 75% adult literacy. Compared to other industrialized nations, however, the US is doing very, very badly. There appears to be a strong positive correlation between socio-economic status and literacy rate, with pockets of low literacy in poor areas all over the US. The fifty countries in the world with the lowest rates of literacy are all impoverished, developing countries, and some of those have literacy rates as low as 18%. :cry:

And, fortunately for me, spelling ability is not at all related to assessment of literacy. One bright note in this whole ugly thing. :D Just kidding. Trying to lighten it up a bit. *shrug* :?
20% of Americans (adults and children) have language learning difficulties

10 - 13 % of them have moderate dyslexia

7 - 10 % are severely dyslexic

(I know this because I just attended a reading conference :D )
Well, we can google our hearts out, but that was not quite what I was thinking about when I thought about the girl. This girl was in the midst of making a chessboard for a Christmas gift for somebody. She was talking to somebody in line at a gasoline service station about her baby's pictures and Christmas and other things. I never meant to presume anything about the girl's education or literacy level, but it is a perfectly good question. But remember, we are not talking about anything with this girl but a certain type of mathematical literacy. She was reading a catalog, and that was literate enough for me at the time. What was strange to me about the situation was that she asked me how many feet in several measurement of inches, for example, "How many feet is 108 in, how many feet is 72 in, etc." They were all whole numbers of feet. Yet, she never asked me how I always knew the answers to her questions and how many inches in just one foot. I should gladly explain to anybody who asked me how I got the answers, but that was no question. She was perfectly content to continue asking me these things even as I was walking out the door.
I think it is more of a question of specialization of knowledge than of literacy in general. This girl seemed to think that there would always be some engineer type around to tell her how many feet in so many inches and all her other mathematical questions.
She obviously knew things that I didn't. She was a mother and she was making a chessboard. Those are two things I have never done. But she didn't seem to want to find the magic formula for feet and inches.
The reason I mention Canada is that most Canadians live very close to the border with U.S. and have to deal with conversions all the time. They have a need to understand things. When I ask a Canadian for directions, he/she normally tells me in kilometers and then in miles to be certain that I understand.


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Yes, will35. Some of the smartest people I've ever known have been people who, by our standards, are illiterate. Like the older gentleman I used to know, who never attended any formal school at all, and who ran several businesses, and when he died, left behind houses and properties, and money. All through his ingenuity. Or my grandfather, who, when he died of cancer at 99 years old, left behind four generations of well-educated, well-positioned children, grand, great-grand, and great-great grandchildren, and did it with a sixth grade education and one generation out of slavery. Yes, you are right.

And there are other issues. When I went to grade school, we were taught some practical things, like estimation, and other practical math "tricks" like knowing how many feet in 72 inches, etc. My nieces, who went to the same schools I did a decade or more later, weren't taught the same things. The educational approach was different.

And the third issue, a very real one, is illiteracy, in the US and across the world. How many people do we know, who are disenfranchised or excluded because they can't read? Or how many countries are there, that are economically crippled by their illitracy rates?

All important issues.
Here, let me throw another monkey wrench in the statistics. How many people in the United States who participate in the literacy surveys and become part of the statistics can actually read in their native language, something other than English? How many of those surveys are conducted by people who also happen to be begging for money from the government to teach? Some of those surveys are about spin.
But I always seem to be asking the same questions. What do we need to teach? What do we need to learn? What does it take to learn to read? When I was growing up, my parents taught me that there were certain sounds normally associated with each letter of the alphabet. I was reading Henry James by the time I was five or six.
The average engineer nowadays puts some numbers in a computer, and expects the right answer.
I'm not complaining, just wondering?
Who teaches the parents in this country?


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Oh my goodness! I'm trying to log off and go get something done! Will you please let me go? :shock: :lol:

Yes. Statistical sampling methods stink, and are often manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally, by the people administering the survey. What president was it that said there are three kinds of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics? Calvin Coolidge? True. Bias often determines the outcome. Still, there are real literacy problems.

And there are real educational system problems. Like the case you site about engineers expecting the answers out of a calculator. Absolutely right. When my nieces were in elementary and middle school, honest to pete, if you asked them the answer to 430 plus 300, didn't know the answer couldn't possibly be a million. No common sense in their education. Yet they had computers, and calculators. What is that about? Are we creating a generation of people who don't use their brains, but rely on someone else or a computer to supply them with the answers? Infuriating, and scary.

And the answer is, nobody is educating the parents, except the parents' parents, and the parents themselves. Which leave s a lot of people out of the social/educational viability equation all together.

What a world! :cry: :x
Wine is healthy. It lowers cholesterol. Why don't the wineries sell tiny little bottles with just a sip for people to take even at work. I don't think it would hurt anything.
I thought of this one this morning. Why does american only have one kind of cheese? American cheese? The italians have provolone, mozarella, and parmesean. But we Americans just have one. What, we couldn't come up with any other kinds? How dull. :?


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Is American cheese really cheese, or is it cheese food? And how come white and yellow American cheese taste different? And what's the deal with Kraft singles? And Velveeta is yucky! *shudder*
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