Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Teaching Math Through the Years

From my ya-ha file comes this interesting look at how the teaching of mathematics has changed over the last half-century...

1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M". The set "C", the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set "M." Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" for profits?

1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost of production is $80 and her profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There
are no wrong answers.

2000: By laying off 40% of its loggers, a company improves its stock price from $80 to $100. How much capital gain per share does the CEO make by exercising his stock options at $80? Assume capital gains are no longer taxed, because this encourages investment.

2010: A company outsources all of its loggers. The firm saves on benefits, and when demand for its product is down, the logging work force can easily be cut back. The average logger employed by the company earned $50,000, had three weeks vacation, a nice retirement plan and medical insurance. The contracted logger charges $50 an hour. Was outsourcing a good move?

2011: After outsourcing its logging operations to China, a company decides to increase its contributions to various political parties and organizations to ensure future tax breaks and other business incentives. If the company has $1 million available for investment as a result of employee wage and benefit concessions, what is its optimum mix (expressed as a percentage) of spending on:
a. Republican Congressional candidates.
b. Democratic Congressional candidates.
c. Local judgeships.
d. Political action committees (NOTE: you are not required to identify specific PACs - see Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission).
e. The NRA.
You may use imaginary numbers. Be prepared to justify your answer.

Modern mathematics ... you've gotta love it. At least I can balance my checkbook to within about $25, which is more than I can say for Congress.

Have a good day. By the numbers.

More thoughts tomorrow.



allenwoodhaven said...

You make math FUN!

Mike said...

I think I like 1980 best.

Amanda said...

Looks like I learned math in the easiest decade - the 1990s where there were no wrong answers :)

KathyA said...

These are HILARIOUS!! -- "underline the number..."???

And why would you want Congress to balance your checkbook??? :)

Bilbo said...

allenwoodhaven - math is not, and can never be, "fun," regardless of what Danica McKellar says.

Mike - you and me both.

Amanda - I wish I'd had the 90's version instead of being tortured with the "set theory" school of math (in the 60's, not the 70's).

Kathy - the government helps me balance my checkbook - whether I want their help or not - by ensuring that there's a painfully small amount left in it to balance.

Raquel's World said...

So true so true.
And at least now I know why I hate math...I should've been around in the 50's. Now that is math I can do!