Teacher Fired For Making Math Interesting

I was one of those girls who actually loved math, even going on to major in economics in college. Math came sort of naturally to me, and I actually preferred studying it without the benefit of “word problems.” But word problems are important means to help students learn how to apply math to real-world situations. They help students decipher important data to solve problems.

But why write up word problems about trains departing from different cities at different times when you can write up word problems about mosquito attacks, blood-thirsty aliens and children dying from marble consumption?

Well, because it gets you fired. Really.

The questions are so obviously in jest that the idea this is a firing offense says more about the state of education today than it does about the teacher. To wit:

John’s father gave him 1359 marbles on his birthday. John swallowed 585 marbles and died. [Nine] of John’s friends came for his funeral the next day. John’s grieving father gave the remaining marbles to John’s friends in equal numbers. How many marbles did each friend get?

Here’s another:

Green aliens landed in Chicago and rounded up 1479 math teachers. The bloodthirsty aliens then sucked the blood of 828 teachers and left them for dead. The aliens tied up the rest of the teachers and marched them into 3 UFOs. If there were an equal number of poor math teachers in each UFO, how many teachers were in each UFO?

Oh come on. Children aren’t idiots, they’re just smaller people. Have these children never heard the violent-laced tales of The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood? [tagbox tag=”teacher”]

Joking about bloodthirsty aliens going after teachers is only inappropriate if you think that children have no senses of humor or imagination or any ability to discern reality from fiction. Not to mention, the idea that this was done to some group of emotionally sheltered kids who couldn’t dare handle the thought of death, or marbles, is ridiculous. The teacher was at a school in Trinidad, one of the rougher neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. (and I should know, it was the neighborhood over from me for many years).

The teacher got his questions from a website called Homeschooling-Paradise.com and the principle and the local news breathlessly reports “The teacher who sent home those violence-laced math problems at Center City Public Charter School’s Trinidad campus in Northeast D.C. has been fired as of Thursday.”

Oh well thank goodness. We certainly wouldn’t want to just tell a teacher who makes math engaging to tone it down (if that’s even necessary, I’m not sure). Much better to fire him.

As one of my friends put it when he heard the story, “They should have given him a raise instead.”

Image via ThinkStock.

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