Why Math Word Problems Fail — And How We Can Get Them Right

AK Whitney, Noodle, Feb 28, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In school I struggled with math. My problems in math centered around applying memorized formulae to specific problems. Word problems weren't a special case for me, but even as I solved the problems here my main difficulty lay in retrieving from memory the right formula for this and that. It's because I don't think mathematically, at least, not beyond a certain level. I agree with the argument in this post that word problems should be more realistic. Counting the sequins in an Oscar dress is the sort of thing we can imagine doing (mind you, as a former restaurant employee, I can also imagine buying 60 cantaloupes). I wish the article said more about the state of mind the Expii website is trying to provoke. But I do like seeing how other people solved the problem, but as always, wish a pox on those who post a formula without a word of explanation. Via David Wiley.

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