Can I take a joke?

Have you seen this or similar things on Pinterest or Facebook?  They are pretty popular.  Usually, I love a good math joke... 


One thing that bothers me about the card above is, well, it's not true!  Okay, not everyone is factoring trinomials on a daily basis... but figuring out a missing number?  That happens many times each day.  How many more times can I hit the snooze (9 mins each) before I'll be running late?  How many extra shots of espresso can I get in my latte if I have $5?  Do I need to stop and get gas this morning if I still have 1/4 of a tank of gas and I usually get about 25 mpg?  And these are just questions you might ask in the first few hours of the day... ALGEBRA!  I guess people aren't setting up complex systems of equations to solve such life problems, but still, they are finding a missing value.  They are doing algebra.

Now, I'm not here to debate if my above examples are actually just problem solving or true algebra problems.  I'm not sure if the problems truly land under the strand of mathematics we call algebra.  But my bigger argument is against the acceptance our society has toward disliking or hating math.  Is seems normal, if not expected, that students or adults "hate math."  I cringe when a parent says to me, "He's doing great in school, well except for math.  But that is okay because I hated math in school too."   As  teachers we have to not only deal with new standards, testing pressure, poverty, lack of funding, and anything else that comes along with teaching in the United States these days-- but also as MATH teachers we have the added struggle of convincing our kiddos that it is okay to like math and you can still be cool (or, cool-ish says the nerdy math teacher that wears pi earrings on Pi Day).

For more about this topic, check out this article from Business Insider called, 'I'm not a Math Person Is No Longer An Excuse.'

Here's a better tribute to algebra (from Teaching College Math):

Some other math jokes that make me chuckle:

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Zeros who?
Zeros the boat but it doesn't go anywhere

Q:What did one math book say to the other math book?
A: Leave me alone, I have my own problems!

Ha!  :)


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