Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Problem with Math

Why do math problems always ask questions that you will never encounter in real life? For example, all those math problems about "…if a train leaves Chicago headed for San Francisco at 5:00 am and travels at 50 miles per hour, what time will it arrive?" First of all, who takes a train from Chicago to San Francisco? Nobody takes the train anymore. People would just fly it.

And then there are those elementary school math problems that say stuff like "You have 2 barrels of apples. Each barrel holds 50 apples. Sally has 5 barrels of apples. If you give Sally half of your apples, how many apples will she have?"

How many elementary school age children have you ever known who have, in their possession, barrels full of apples? Or oranges, corn, or any other fruit or vegetable for that matter?

Also, assuming that this little kid Sally does, in fact, possess all this produce, why would I just give Sally half of my apples? Based on what the problem tells us, Sally and I are obviously engaged in some sort of highly competitive apple driven economy. The first thing I'm going to do is to try to undercut her price, not just give her half of my apples! Then I'll probably throw together some sort of slick marketing campaign that makes my apples look great tasting and friendly to the environment and makes her apples look like if you ate one you'd die within 6 hours.
Sally already has way more apples than me and if she ends up with any of my apples at all, it will be because she bought them at a greatly increased price, not because I just gave them to her for free.


  1. This is gonna be a great blog!! I love blogging!!

    Shama D

  2. substitue dollars for apples and now we know why so many people can't do simple things like balance their checkbook or figure out that your not ahead if you buy a house you can't afford but are able to afford the first two years until the balloon payment hits.

  3. Math shmath!

    They say that 60% of all statistics are made up.

    They also say that 5/4 of all people have trouble with fractions.

    Who are "they?"

  4. As a math teacher I feel qualified to say that it's actually 92.7% of statistics that are made up on the spot...or maybe it's 84.4%.

    There are three kinds of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't.