## Friday, September 14, 2012

### Why there is no future

I was working job number two today (substitute teacher). I was assigned for the morning to a fourth grade class. The lesson was probability.  After a half hour of explaining vocabulary, problem-solving strategies and examples, the students were assigned a few problems from their books.  Most did ok deciding if an outcome was certain, likely, unlikely or impossible. However, when it came to working with actual numbers, I realized it is no wonder so many people can't maintain a checking account or hold a job.  The economy is in trouble because apparently, kids today don't even know what a number is.
Here's the question in the book:
Use numbers to describe the probability of choosing a cube that is not yellow.
They had a few minutes to think about it and write down an answer. I started going around the room asking for responses.  The first kid said "10 out of 2". At least the format was right, but there are still two things wrong with this answer. One, there can't be ten desirable outcomes if there are only two possible outcomes. Secondly, the kid had answered the question for yellow, rather than anything except yellow. This shows not only a complete lack of understanding of the math topic, but also demonstrates poor reading comprehension skills.
The second kid who offered an answer said "2 out of 10". I made the mistake of feeling hopeful and optimistic at this point, thinking at least the math was on the right track even if the reading skills left something to be desired.  Oh , how foolish and naive I was.
After suggestion they all carefully read the question again, FIVE individuals claimed to have figured out the answer:
Blue.

Huh. Who knew blue was a number. Maybe I should ask for a red% raise after dealing with this.