### Teaching math

This email is making the rounds again. I've seen it several times in the past few years, and figured I'd share it here:

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s: Teaching Math In 1950 A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? Teaching Math In 1960 A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? Teaching Math In 1970 A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Teaching Math In 1980 A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. Teaching Math In 1990 [see, I said it was old] A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the homes? (There are no wronganswers.)And lest you think the last is an exaggeration, I was just speaking the other day to a woman who tutors math for elementary through college kids. She says that the level of math her tutorees have mastered is abysmal, because the teachers do actually teach as the "1990s" example says: they tell the children that a precise answer isn't necessary, but do urge them to write an essay about the "imprecise" answer (we used to say "wrong" answer).

<< Home