Mean Math

This article is not about finding the mean (average of data) in Math.  It is about cruel math teaching principles that I encounter frequently while educating students.  While tutoring an Algebra I student, Math study guides were sent home for test preparation.  The questions on both the study guides and the exams were designed for more advanced algebra students instead of beginning Algebra.  The teacher was out of touch with her students’ abilities and needs.  Then, there are those tricky Math questions like this one.  “I am a number less than 3000, Divide by 32, the remainder is 30. Divide by 58, the remainder is 44. Who am I?”  A fifth grade student of mine, who is already struggling with fractions and multiples only got frustrated and defeated by this question.  Last week, I taught a seventh grade student in the percent increase and decrease of an amount/price.  The method and formula for the solution was petty straight forward and easily mastered.  The examples were clearly explained in his Math book.  However, there were 3 questions that were not in his Math book.  The night before his weekly Math quiz, my student received a work sheet with 10 Math questions.  There were no page references for examples or examples provided on his worksheet.  We found them from the index in his text book.  The 3 questions went like this.  “A painting was sold at a 50% discount for $320.00.  What was the original price?”  Well, this one could be done mentally, but my student wanted to see the equation because at this point in the lesson he was very confused since the objectives were on clearly stated on his paper.  The next question was, “A student bought a skateboard for 10% off and paid $36.00.  What was the original price?”  The third question went something like this, “Someone paid $76.50 for something that was marked down 10%.  What was the original price?”  With some trial and error a solution was found.  Still, the book did not explain using algebra how to solve this question.  Thanks to someone on the internet a solution was found using the equation:  1x-.10x=$76.50.  Caring teachers should consider all the levels of their students and provide lessons that facilitate instead of frustrate their learners.

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