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To be slightly horrified at how poor my basic skills are?

(388 Posts)
primrosesandmaths Wed 14-Mar-18 08:57:51

In my professional, graduate profession, I have just been told I have to work out something as a percentage.

I have no idea how to do it.

I shall google - it isn’t an advice thread as such, but my maths is just dire and I can’t help wondering if this is common or whether I am an imposter in my role.

ChardonnaysPrettySister Wed 14-Mar-18 09:00:46

Did not feel bad, lots of people are.

There are countless threads where posters cannot work out a simple maths problem.

It’s not you, it’s the educational system.

SpringMayHaveSprung Wed 14-Mar-18 09:04:17

If you want to do something about it I find Khan Academy gives very clear explanations and is comprehensive.

evilharpy Wed 14-Mar-18 09:08:39

I have quite a mathsy job and I can't do long division.

TryptoFan Wed 14-Mar-18 09:11:50

Well it's no surprise if you don't have to practice working out percentages.

It’s not you, it’s the educational system

Can you expand on this point, if you don't mind? I'm curious.

MereDintofPandiculation Wed 14-Mar-18 09:12:50

Lots of people have similar problems. We have a culture that says it's OK (or even a bit to be admired) to be bad at maths, teaching which used to be so bogged down with the details of calculation pre-calculators that the concepts were lost in the detail - and the legacy of that is still with us. Also a belief that no-one needs maths in their every day life ... whereas in fact you do. How do you calculate the number of units in that bottle of wine? How do you know the extent that inflation is eating into your savings? Or whether to go for an electricty tariff with low unit cost and high standing charge or vice versa? Or whether your cancer risk is lowered more by giving up bacon or alcohol?

So as a result, many people are lacking in basic arithmetical skills, and a failure to understand percentages or to be able to calculate them is very common.

Don't feel bad about it - but do try to do something about it.

kinorsam Wed 14-Mar-18 09:13:24

I've worked in finance for years and I can't do long division either. That's what calculators are for... grin

Don't worry OP - I've trained loads of people at work over the years and hardly any of them could work out percentages either. Once you've got the knack, it's fine.

BigBairyHollocks Wed 14-Mar-18 09:13:25

I am exactly the same as you.I regularly have to work things out as percentages,and worse have to work out the % difference between things,and I have to google it every single time.I am also in a professional role,have a degree and masters.Have just accepted it now and text my husband every time to make sure I’m doing it right!

SpringMayHaveSprung Wed 14-Mar-18 09:14:54

If you ask people over 65 to do stuff like this there a good proportion of them who are whizzes despite not practicing for years. My mum is one ( of many!)

She says they didn't do anywhere near the breadth of what she hears that her grandchildren do in school now but what they did do they learned thoroughly.

Peanutbuttercheese Wed 14-Mar-18 09:15:58

I think many people are scared of maths, maths wasn't my branch as such and I worked in a social sciences setting but I can do percentages and long division and all that. I'm older though and they made us learn everything on paper as opposed to using a calculator though calculators became used when I was in sixth form and cost a fortune. I do wonder if that helped, anyone remember log books?

LBOCS2 Wed 14-Mar-18 09:20:33

My degree is mathsy and my whole career has been.

Can't do long division either.

MereDintofPandiculation Wed 14-Mar-18 09:20:41

I have quite a mathsy job and I can't do long division. No real need to be able to nowadays. What is more useful is to be able to convert it into an approximate sum so you know that you've got the right answer on your calculator and haven't hit the wrong button.

I know of a new maths graduate who knew exactly how to calculate mean and median but couldn't understand why you might prefer one over the other in a particular circumstance. That seemed to me a far worse gap in understanding.

ChardonnaysPrettySister Wed 14-Mar-18 09:22:02

Yes I can.

People are not taught simple sums. The handwringing that ensues with a simple BODMAS problem here is the proof of that.

Dandellion Wed 14-Mar-18 09:23:10

My MIL left her secondary modern at 14 with no qualifications. But she is still solid as a rock on basic math techniques, SPAG and standard general knowledge such as capital cities, historical dates. She had a limited but very thorough educational framework which she could fall back on.

I am still aghast at the number of graduates I have worked with who confuse their, there and they're and haven't a clue what the capital of Greece is or the dates of WWI.

MereDintofPandiculation Wed 14-Mar-18 09:24:22

I do wonder if that helped, anyone remember log books? I do remember log books, and they are well consigned to history. Logarithms are very useful for working with stuff that basically multiplicative - where it matters that something is twice the size of another more than it being 10cm longer - but using logarithms as a calculating aid tends to swamp understanding of what logarithms are actually about.

QuimReaper Wed 14-Mar-18 09:31:44

OP, almost everyone uses Excel worksheets to work out things like that, don't worry. Most other people can't just "do it" either, they just have computer skills rather than maths skills. (Both very worth having!)

*My degree is mathsy and my whole career has been.

Can't do long division either.*

DH has a maths degree too. The other day he came out with "It takes 45 minutes to go 15 miles. That's like three miles an hour."


JennyOnAPlate Wed 14-Mar-18 09:33:37

It's not just you op. I can work out percentages but can't do long division or multiplication without a calculator!

I've never heard of BODMAS and I can't do my 8 year olds maths homework (equivalent fractions).

I have 10 GCSEs, 4 A-levels and a 2:1 from a red brick university.

QuimReaper Wed 14-Mar-18 09:33:40

Sorry to hijack your thread OP, but I'm growing increasingly despondent about my appalling DIY skills. I haven't the faintest ability to put up a shelf, or hang a heavy mirror. I rely on our builder to be here doing something else, and wheedling him to do it for me. I've just never, ever been taught, for a second in my life - I'm sure it can't be hard, but I'm terrified of doing something stupid like drilling through an electrical wire.

Is there any hope for the Hopeless at DIY? Are there adult day classes you can take or anything?

chocatoo Wed 14-Mar-18 09:34:36

I am surprised by how many posters are saying that's fine and don't worry about it! I am fairly appalled that you don't know how to work out a percentage.

mirime Wed 14-Mar-18 09:36:03

I used to work in retail, the number of people who asked me how much 10% off £10 would be was shocking.

fleshmarketclose Wed 14-Mar-18 09:36:10

I had to proof read ds's dissertations for his degree and his Masters because his grasp of grammar is appalling. I've no idea how he got through years and years of education without being schooled in basic grammar. He doesn't automatically use there,their and they're, its and it's, appropriately.He automatically uses could of,would of and should of and it drove me mad.
Different generation I suppose but I remember having all those drilled into me in early primary. Anyone remember Sound Sense workbooks?

QuimReaper Wed 14-Mar-18 09:37:13

Mere I've never understood what circumstances Median Averages might be helpful in blush

I'm sure I remember buttonholing my maths teacher about that actually. She was a terrifyingly brilliant woman and I feel sure she rattled off a few scenarios, but I was still unconvinced, and secretly thought they might be the only three examples, and she might keep them stored up for when people asked, as part of the great Median Average Pointlessness Coverup Conspiracy.

SpringMayHaveSprung Wed 14-Mar-18 09:37:35

My most esteemed skill in one office was working out the original amount from the record of the VAT paid.

Twas as if I'd just spoken fluent Cantonese.

SnugglySnerd Wed 14-Mar-18 09:38:05

I think maths requires regular practice. If you don't use it you lose it. Luckily we have calculators, Excel and Google to help us!

QuimReaper Wed 14-Mar-18 09:38:31

chocatoo we're more telling the OP not to feel badly about it because it's very common and a product of her environment rather than her inherent inadequacy, than to tell her it doesn't matter. I'm sure by the end of today she'll know how.

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