Is it possible to design “real life” word problems that math students “feel a need to answer.” On Edspresso, “John Dewey,” a career-switcher studying to become a math teacher, ponders an education textbook writer’s complaint about standard word problems.
“With a real-life problem, students are confronted with puzzling questions they want to answer. Textbook word problems … present puzzling questions, but rarely are they questions students feel a need to answer.”
Another essayist rejects a problem about two people shoveling snow at different rates because he feels students won’t believe people can clear a path that quickly. (Doesn’t it depend on the length of the path?)
When I was in school, I thought I could lead a meaningful life without knowing how to calculate the height of flagpoles. My father told me I could use the same skills to calculate artillery trajectories, thereby passing OCS and avoiding service as an enlisted man. This real-life application didn’t make me any keener to solve problems. But I did them anyhow because I liked earning good grades.
At Exponential Curve, Dan Greene explains how he taught a lesson on graphing linear inequalities. I wonder if I ever learned this.