a math lesson…

Here’s an interesting tidbit about math problems.      Really I fail to see what the issue is here…until I read the rest of the post and thought about the answers in the comments…which serve to sow doubt in my brain.       .   Assuming that the students have been taught modern  equations right from the beginning of their Mathematical career, the question is quite straight-forward.      The confusion appears to stem from the commenters’ adding extraneous information, or rather superfluous details, and that dealing with the question as originally presented is not that complicated.    The imprecise “some people” on the train is the x-factor, and ignores or includes train workers.

Perhaps the real question here is “should first/second level students be asked this question on a test.   The age-appropriateness is a matter of opinion.  Adults who were more than likely taught to do math problems by the old methods may think the question is “too difficult,” but it is probably well within the capability of the affected children.   Also, in my opinion, the problem must be stated exactly as written…starting with the “some people” on the train in the first place.    It isn’t a trick question.






Math Test Question Stumps Parents


6- and 7-Year-Olds Couldn’t Solve This Math Test Question, and We’re Not Surprised

The internet is having a field day figuring out what the real answer is to a simple math problem. A Twitter user named Louise Bloxham shared a math problem from a Year 2 (equivalent to the first grade in the US) workbook. The tweet and account are now gone but the problem asked, “There were some people on a train. 19 people get off the train at the first stop. 17 people get on the train. Now there are 63 people on the train. How many people were on the train to begin with?”

If you try solving it yourself, you’ll probably get this setup: X – 19 + 17 = 63. All you have to do is solve for x, which gives you 65 as the answer:

But if you look further into the comments, users start arguing that the answer is 46, not 65.

Other commentators became philosophical and said that the math problem fails to factor in the train driver and inspector:

The situation apparently became too much for one person, who said that everyone was “looking at it algebraically for proof purposes,” when it was really just a simple equation.

Although the math question has stumped some parents and young children, the main concern here is not whether or not it can be solved, but if 6- and 7-year-olds should’ve been asked it. That answer to that question is simple: if there’s this much debate about it with adults, then it’s not suitable for children.


This post was originally published on May 10, 2016.