Tips&TricksSimple elementary equation baffles adults: do basic math skills fade with age?

Simple elementary equation baffles adults: do basic math skills fade with age?

Mathematical equation.
Mathematical equation.
Images source: © Canva
3:32 PM EST, January 31, 2024

Mathematics, the queen of all sciences, is something we engage with daily, even though we don't always acknowledge it. While no one requires us to solve complex operations routinely, basic calculations are a part of everyday life. The equation above is a typical example from an elementary school textbook, yet many parents have difficulty solving it. How about you?

An equation that baffles adults

There comes a time when your child begins to learn new material in school and asks you to check their notebook. Even though it's primary material, you might realize that you've forgotten this knowledge long ago and don't know how to assist them. Testing your skills periodically and solving a few math problems is beneficial. Today, we have a simple equation that should only take a few seconds: 20−8÷2+1−9÷3=?.

Do you have the answer ready? As there are no parentheses or hidden signs, you must follow the order of operations. In this instance, the division operation takes precedence, and only afterward can we add and subtract. The correct answer is 14. Did you solve it correctly? If not, we predict that your answer was 3 or 4, which are the answers given when you don't break the operation down and prioritize division.

Innate talent or practice? What determines our math skills?

We've all heard claims that someone was born a linguist and can't cope with numbers. People with such beliefs assume they can't calculate, and attending math classes torments them. So, is it accurate that some are born with a knack for numbers and others aren't? Yes and no. We all have different skills and aptitudes. Some assimilate knowledge more efficiently, while others spend numerous hours mastering basic rules. However, whether we grasp mathematics largely depends on how much time and effort we devote.

Keep in mind that not all teachers are effective in imparting knowledge. Furthermore, schools tend to be overcrowded, leaving students with limited chances of one-on-one time with the teacher to learn step-by-step how to solve equations. Students who receive private tutoring often learn more effectively, thanks to an individualized approach and training. So, we conclude that anyone can learn mathematics, but the learning pace can significantly vary. While some people grasp a concept in a week, others may take a month. But that's okay. Everyone progresses at their speed.

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