I’ll deal with the first thoughtful responses to the title question up front.

Although we can join the debate about whether the population spikes 9 months following a major power outage or whether the number of births is well within the norm, that’s not really where I’m headed with this one. I’m talking about the power that runs today’s technological devices we so depend on. What happens when those resources are not available? Here’s why I ask.

During a power outage, I went into a local store hoping to make a purchase. Unfortunately, the clerk did not know how to compute the change needed from the cash tendered without the aid of the cash register. Counting on her fingers, she struggled several times, but I finally had to tell her. She could not get it right. It was not a matter of being inconvenient to perform calculations by hand. The root problem stemmed from the fact that she had not learned the skill.

Recently, I tutored an extremely bright twenty-something’s man preparing for an entrance exam. He had no problem solving quadratic equations and understood higher math concepts, so why did he need to find a coach? He had never learned how to do long division. He was unable to solve these problems without a calculator, and the rules did not permit using one during the test. None of his elementary teachers had taught him this skill.

There are more benefits gained from using the left side of the brain than mere academic exercises. Learning math facts like the multiplication tables and grasping other concepts prepare you to think clearly to make other decisions and analyze situations. It also keeps the brain agile and sharp during the senior years. Certainly using technology makes the job easier, but if it’s not available, could you go it alone?

But here’s the more important question. Do you know what the local schools are teaching – or not teaching? Perhaps you should check it out, and don’t stop with just math. You might want to investigate other subjects like history and writing. This would be good to find out before we’re all left in the dark.

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