Are you Mathematically Literate?

Once a Health Inspector paid a visit to a bakery and started giving instructions on seeing preparation of cakes there.  

He said. What are you doing? Using four eggs to make a cake? Do You know? A recent  research  shows that one in four eggs carries a  kind of bacteria. So you should never use more than three eggs while preparing a cake from the four which  you have kept for the preparation of a cake.

The bakery manager  started nodding his head .Of course there was no other option before him. He started showing off his knowledge of algebra in defense.

Sir,that means….by simply throwing out three eggs from each dozen and using the remaining nine in  three cakes would serve the purpose. Right.

On listening this ,the  inspector gave a blank look. He was not sure and said……O.K..….   OK …. I will get back to you later on.

This is not an imaginary story. This happened …….and  was reported by The Salt Lake Tribune  …….a daily newspaper with largest circulation published in Salt Lake City of  United States of America , on Oct.ober 11, 2002 . This example is given in a book-Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis written by Roxy Peck and others to explain the concept of Probability. 

Now you seems to be  relaxed…. It is relaxing to  know that there are at least some  educated adults even in developed countries without a proper understanding of the concept of probability. Right?

Basic Mathematical Knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to real life situations is a fundamental  necessity to effectively function in  the twenty first century.

Be it using a google map for knowing the shortest root with less traffic………, finding out the best house loan….. from the available options from different banks, …………..knowing the carpet area of a flat you want to purchase,……… managing your family expenditure,………. analysing data for some presentation in the office, ………shopping with the money available in your  pocket……or even understanding the meaning of social distancing to flatten the curve during the present Covid-19 crisis.

It may be  that you have not taken Mathematics after class X for your studies. But you will not have an option to say that facing a real life challenge. The larger question is whether you are able to use Mathematics that you have learn  in a real life context.  We have redefine literacy and go beyond the basic one……… 3 Rs… Reading , wRiting and aRithmetic.

Now a question may arise in your mind.  You may ask What is Mathematical Literacy? Or What is the scope of  Mathematical Literacy.  

Mathematical literacy is an individual’s capacity to reason mathematically…………. and to formulate, employ and interpret mathematics to solve problems in a variety of real-world contexts…………………….

It helps individuals know the role that Mathematics plays in the world and make the well-founded judgments and decisions needed by constructive, engaged and reflective 21st Century citizens.

Now it is time to ask a question. The question we should ask to ourselves. Are we helping our children to  build their ability to mathematize a real life situation. We should reflect on our teaching strategies to see whether we are able to give inputs……………to majority of the children who are going to opt out of Mathematics…….to make them future ready….whether our children will able to convert a real life problem to a mathematical problem and…….reflect on the utility of the mathematical results in real life context. 

In conclusion we have seen how it is important to ensure that a student who is passing out class X should be mathematically literate. Then only all the professional including the a professional like the o Health Inspectors in the incident reported  will be able to function effectively…… Let us ensure that every citizen be Mathematically literate citizen  with the ability to make use of Mathematics in dealing with real life problems in adult life