Part of the job description for teaching middle school is the ability to answer the same question up to 25 times a day without strangling askers 11-25. But sometimes you have to draw the line. Years ago I got sick of  handing back tests or essays or whatever and hearing the chorus of,

“What grade is 28/40?”

“Do the math.”


“What’s the line in a fraction mean?”


“The line. There’s 28 then there’s a line, then there’s 40. What does the line mean?”

Finally…a few shout out,


“Well then. Do the math. 28 divided by 40.”


“I pity your poor math teachers.”

I do not answer the question, “What’s x out of y?” Ever.

“Just tell me.”


“This isn’t math.”

That’s why I put a couple math questions on the end of year essential questions quiz (The YEE – original post here). I mean, even for 600 words (when they handwrite –  even this bunch is savvy enough to find the word count feature in MS Word), they want to count every word instead of just doing some simple math.

“Just count the words in a line or two, and see about how many words you’re getting per line, then just count the lines and multiply.”

“…123, 124, 125, 126…what?”


This has actually been an extended intro for a link I want to share. In 1929 in New Hampshire, a school superintendent removed arithmetic from the elementary school curriculum in first through sixth grade. They stopped teaching math! Of course he tried this experiment in some of the poorest districts, because he could get away with it better. You have to read the wherefores and what-happened of this one for yourself, from Psychology Today:

When Less is More…