This is Fred Black.

I was in a fast food joint and lunch came to $5.73, and I handed over a $10 bill.  The college-aged cashier said that the cash register’s computer was down, so they were using a hand calculator today.

I asked if they ever taught him how to count up.  The stare that I got answered the question.  So, I said, “Well let me show you.  If my bill is $5.73 and I give you a $10, you take out 2 pennies and say $5.75.  Then you take out a quarter and say $6.  And then you take out four dollar bills and say $10, and hand me my change.”

“Wow!” the cashier exclaimed, “how come they never showed us?  That’s so cool, you don’t even have to know how to subtract.”

Well I learned that skill while I was working in a grocery store during high school, and cash registers were what we now call dumb.  But, learning those skills was really smart.

This exchange with the cashier caused me to wonder, what other kinds of skills aren’t we teaching?  How about the eventual cost of that $14 pizza that you put on a credit card and take three months to pay off?  If not learned in the home, where is one taught about the annual percentage rate, or the APR? And, that if a credit card has a 20% APR, the credit card holder will pay 1/12 of that rate monthly, which is added to the credit card balance?

There are plenty of other skills one needs to learn.  Are we teaching our young people?