Wednesday, March 21, 2012

word problem problems in Atlanta

In January a middle school math teacher in Gwinnett set up a couple of math problems like this and shared them with other teachers.

The question read, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

Another math problem read, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"

Another question asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick filled.

The parents were outraged, the teacher resigned.

This week in Clayton County a teacher wrote a problem "A plantation owner had 100 slaves. If three-fifths of them are counted for representation, how many slaves will be counted?" and the parents are outraged.

It is a stupid topic to try to build a math problem around - about as sensitive as doing something with the concentration camps in Germany or the Trail of Tears.

In defense, there is so much pressure to make the questions work across the curriculum, be relevant, be word problems, that I think it is easy to lose sight of what is appropriate.

I am going to county tea cups and tea cozies instead.


Curmudgeon said...

If this is a history teacher using the original version of the Constitution, it'd be okay. But it probably wasn't, so it probably isn't.

Karen S. said...

Well in this day and age, all classrooms should be wireless/techy the old days (and if a student needed to be contacted the office would do it) A teacher-friend of mine had a great idea for her class (of students who just felt she wasn't worth a listen) she set out giving each student their day to run the class. Of course it had to be about what was on topic, but they were excited to go home and put their lesson together, and bring it to class. It got their juices flowing !