This has been quite an excellent thread. Most of what I thought of saying has been articulated in a more interesting way by others already. I think of myself as pretty relaxed already, but reading all this makes me relax even more.
Maybe because I cannot imagine the complete lack of interest that the OP describes, I have no answer to the main question, when would you worry.
Re: picking up math as a teen / adult: I wanted to share this talk by Salman Khan, a math teacher or rather maker of math instructional videos. See just before the end of the video, where he reads letters from students and parents: http://vimeo.com/11731351
He also mentions that for some students learning from a video is easier than learning from a live person. This perhaps stems from the "math anxiety" that some ppl carry.
Just for fun let me throw this in - Lessons in physics, starting wtih basic arithmetic all the way to string theory, that you can get free online: http://www.phys.uu.nl/~thooft/theorist.html
Back to the OP,
|What if you need to count your change, and you can't do?
I guess this means that you need to go along with someone who can. But this could be awkward after a certain age. (And, yes, it is OT but I would be alarmed if if one started throwing away the change.) And I would not rely on the cashier to get it right every time either - how many times I have had to correct a cashier - either because sale price was not rung up, coupon not applied, something counted twice, or some other error. If I could not estimate the total how would I know it was off and think of looking at the details? I am not examining every entry - but still, I can get an idea when the total is more than what I think it should be.
|The real need would be if that child was starving, and needed to see if his coins were enough for a piece of bread.
When I try to imagine this scenario, I can't help feeling that it would arise in the context of a life in which other problems would have generated that much math skill or other street smarts already. The Boxcar Children opens with such a scene. And not only the starving have to cross check bank statements and credit card bills. Errors / fraud are unfortunately common.
though of possible interest to others reading this thread, some articles I like to share on math learning:A Mathematician's Lament
- Mathematical Association of America. Paul Lockhart argues against " the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education."When Less is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in Schools
by Peter Gray, March 18, 2010, Child Development Peter Gray suggests that delaying the formal instruction in math would allow kids "to learn it with far less effort and greater understanding."Kids Learn Math Easily When They Control Their Own Learning,
April 15, 2010, Child Development