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Math for Grownups by Laura Laing

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Math for Grownups by Laura LaingMath for Grownups by Laura Laing, a personal finance writer with a background in Mathematics and who once taught high school math for four years, is a book that seeks to reteach you all the arithmetic you forgot from school. And this book delivers on that simple promise.

One of the common complaints about our educational system is that high school is mostly preparation for college. If you don’t go to college, very few of the classes translate to real life (how many high schools offer any sort of personal finance education?). Even if you go to college, your high school classes are simply preparation for the college classroom, not college life. Nowhere is this more evident than in mathematics. You start with algebra, explaining in terms of X, Y, Z (and A, B, C when you need more variables), rather than more relatable terms (we do throw a bone in terms of “word problems,” but that’s generally not how it’s taught). Algebra is preparation for trigonometry, which is preparation for calculus. There are few daily life uses for calculus. :)

This book just repackages all that early arithmetic and puts it in terms that we deal with every day, from calculating a 15% tip to figuring out how much mulch you need for your 10′ x 5′ garden plot. It teaches you some shortcuts, like the Rule of 72, but mostly tackles daily math problems in a way that shows you why it was important to learn that stuff as a kid.

As you can problem tell from my review, this isn’t a life changing book on the level of The Richest Man in Babylon but it’s far more practical. If you’re the type of person who isn’t particularly good at math and often find yourself in tricky situations, this book is worth checking out. If you have a strong math background, you probably won’t get much out of this book outside of a few shortcuts and more clever ways to solve a problem.

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7 Responses to “Math for Grownups by Laura Laing”

  1. DIY Investor says:

    I think we’ve come full circle. The invention of coins in Lydia 3,000 years ago actually was a major innovation that made people learn arithmetic. Before coins people didn’t really need to know how to count , add, subtract etc. Now you describe a book that covers math adults need to know in everyday life on a personal finance blog.

  2. STRONGside says:

    HAHA. Yes, it really is sad that we have come this far, but unfortunately, here we are and we need to deal with it. Our society has become far too reliant on calculators and computers to replace rational thought and actual intelligence.

  3. Dave says:

    I love this idea – I’m sure this would come in very handy to folks who don’t remember any of their math from HS.

  4. mannymacho says:

    I disagree that there are few daily life uses for calculus. Didn’t you ever watch that show Numbers? :)

  5. skylog says:

    sadly, i do think this book is a great idea. i am shocked how little math many people have retained. it still baffles me how people in my circle, many considered intelligent, can not calculate a proper tip in their head. or add simple sums….etc…

    btw, i love every reference you make to the rule of 72

  6. I’ll agree that some of the higher level classes are not all that useful in daily life, but I would go the opposite way from your statement, and say that one of our major problems with the educational system is that we don’t think most of the material is applicable/useful in “real life”.


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