Maths is creeping in everywhere!

There is a person in my house who loves watching tv’s quiz shows. And while sharing the sofa I haven’t been able to avoid noticing that maths questions keep sneaking in.

Maths is creeping in everywhere!

We’re not talking about fiendish numeracy acrobatics here but reasonable tasks on addition, multiplication and so on. And it doesn’t really matter whether this is a sneaky but purposeful way from the quiz masters to get people to practice their skills with numbers or a realisation that maths questions make excellent quiz problems to solve. 

Obviously, in the spirit of quizzing, these questions usually need to be answered against the clock but fortunately that’s not often necessary in our regular life. It does often help if we can do quick calculations to check if the change we get, the tips we hand over or the restaurant bills we share are in the right ballpark. 

A union member working for insurance industry once told me that he found it really useful calculating basic percentages in his head so he could tell whether the formula in the spreadsheet template they used was anywhere near being correct. The spreadsheet did the maths but they felt more confident with customers knowing that nothing stood out numbers wise. That’s what we’d all want to be: confident. 

However, another rep was once lamenting about how they didn’t want to learn how to calculate the square feet of their living room carpet because there were professionals for that. That made me suggest that maybe it would help with dealing with the professionals better when you know that you are at least generally on the same page about the size of your lounge and the potential cost of the carpet. 

These confidence and anxiety questions were discussed this week in unionlearn’s yearly Maths Workout Week. We are all entitled to our feelings and emotions but we can also take steps for trying not to be scared of maths. To start with, take one of the SkillCheck and ponder how you feel and whether there’re areas you could improve on.  

By the way, in the middle of shouting answers to the tv, the quiz-watching person in the house remembers to mention that most of the questions in the shows are arithmetic rather than maths. I don’t care. My view is that you can call it what you want as long as you are confident with your numeracy skills. They help you manage everyday life at work, study and home. 

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Kirsi Kekki

Kirsi Kekki is a unionlearn policy officer working in the Strategy team. She has worked in a number of trade unions in the UK and Finland with a variety of roles from tutoring to organising and project management.

Kirsi is currently looking after English and maths, adult learning and apprentice policy and support to unions.