Nobody can figure out how to solve this math problem

Remember when your sixth-grade math teacher told you to pay more attention in class because you’d need to know this information in adulthood?

Here I am, [redacted] years later, and I have no idea what this alleged first-grade math problem is asking for. Neither does most of Twitter.

New Yorker writer Helen Rosner shared an image from a math workbook that her friend was working on with their child. The friend, an MIT grad, was stumped.

“Neither he nor I have even the tiniest clue what the kid is supposed to do here,” Rosner wrote in her Tweet caption.

Are you supposed to cross out fruit and move it over? Do you draw the fruit in the new basket? Does one of the five fruits depicted need to be cut in half to make it truly equal?

People tried to make sense of it on Twitter, to no avail.

You can’t just “subtract the fruit,” Ben! What are you thinking!

The first confusing thing of note right off the bat is the phrase “math drawings.” Many people seemed to not understand what that meant.

According to the not-for-profit academic publication, The Conversation, in recent years there has been a surge in teaching students math in a more visual way. There has always been some element of visuals in math classes, but it’s now considered the “golden age” of reimagining how to teach basic problems to students who think differently.

Thankfully one woman shared a completed homework sheet that made a little more sense.

Basically, the point of the lesson — like what The Conversation article was arguing — is teaching kids that the equal sign in an equation doesn’t necessarily mean “this is the one and only answer.”

So for Rosner’s friend, the student could fill in four bananas and one orange or three bananas and two oranges into the second basket. That way, both baskets equal five fruits.

For any haters who think that it doesn’t make sense because they can’t be equal because the units are different, it doesn’t matter because it’s about math drawings AKA fruit in general. The student could put in five pineapples and it would be fine.

If you still don’t get it, that’s OK, because presumably you have already finished first grade and don’t need to worry about this.

Enjoy reading this article? Check out this TikTok where a woman in STEM shows how often she gets interrupted during class.

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