Sunday, January 8, 2012

The problem is Cross-Curriculum teaching

from Darren, a school might in trouble for its attempt at cross curricular teaching ...

The question was a word problem that said, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" Another math problem said, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"... (District spokeswoman) Roach explained the teachers were trying to incorporate social studies lessons into the math problems, which is something the school district encourages. But the problem with the questions is there is no historical context.
No, the problem is that when you are teaching in the 21st Century, you need to pull your head out of the hole in the ground (or out of your behind ... some have trouble telling the difference). Much better to use word problems such as these (provided as a public service by the Curmudgeon Math Project, LLC.)
  1. If an elementary teacher makes three stupid decisions per day, how many days will it be until she is fired? For extra credit, make a diorama of the classroom using macaroni and tongue depressors.
  2. If four teachers collectively have an IQ of 380, what is the average IQ of a teacher in this school system? For full credit, don't forget to show your work - text your answers to 1-802-IDIOTIC.
  3. When a teacher chooses to write beyond her intelligence, how many irate parents will it take to get it all written up in the national press? Answers must be posted to Twitter because this teacher is obviously a twit herself. Use the hashtag #LowGradeMoron
  4. Write a paragraph explaining why posting a nude picture of herself on Facebook page would have been a better career move. How many reposts will she get if 3500 people see it every three minutes?
  5. Use the MAKEYOURSELFAFATPIG program on your smartphones to figure out the total amount of ice cream eaten by 26 students who eat 3 scoops of ice cream each, if each scoop of ice cream costs $23 and uses $18,000 worth of 21st Century Technology.
  6. Mrs Barnettt has three real daughters and one imaginary one, if she can claim one extra week of vacation in Costa Rica each time she claims that a daughter died, how many weeks will she be spending on the unemployment line in Costa Rica?
Or you could stick to your strengths,
stop trying to be clever,
and ... just ... teach ... math.


  1. It's a bit early, but I think this post is in the running for a "best of the year" award.

    And thanks for the link :)

  2. There are places where this works and places where it doesn't.

    In my mind, every teacher should be a writing teacher. Certainly teachers of physics, economics and chemistry can teach some reinforcing math.

    What you are exposing is silliness, but it doesn't have to be silliness.