There are two obvious reasons why, each year, we are slipping in our ability to do math.
The first reason is that we live in a "mathless" society. For most of us the ability to read and write at a high school level is imperative to our work. Many of us read for pleasure. Math is probably not a prerequisite to you obtaining your job.
There are five strands of math taught in Ontario.
•data measurement and probability
•patterns and algebra
•and geometry and spatial sense.
Think about it: How much geometry have you done this year or since you left school? Beyond Grade 3 arithmetic, I am going to guess you haven't done a significant amount of algebra, or problems that involve spatial sense, for that matter.
The cashier doesn't do complicated math. The bank tellers have all their tallies, except for basic counting, done for them. Financial advisers have complex calculators where numbers are entered into formulas that do all the work. It is similar with most other occupations.
We don't do math for pleasure. We don't do math for fun. What we do for pleasure and fun is "communicate" on social media.
Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book "Outliers" that Chinese farmers, as a matter of survival, have a history of using math on a regular basis. It was necessary in order to maximize the production of rice. They became superior mathematicians. Whereas western farmers, who had a great deal more land, never had the need to maximize per acre production and as a result never developed a need for math. Their math skills remained wanting.
If we have no reason to do math, then how can we get good at it?
The second reason why our math marks are declining is attitude. Many times the attitude of the students mirrors those around them — parents, older siblings, neighbours and friends. Chances are you dislike math and your partner does as well. People are not embarrassed to say they are not good at math, but no one is willing to say, "I'm no good at readin' and writin'."
Students, especially girls, come to math class, in many cases, already in a poor position with regards to achieving success due to the negative outlook of those around them.