Remember when grade school math moved from simple, 1+1=2, to word problems like this: “If I have four cookies and you take two of them, how many cookies do I have?”
Other than my first issue of you suggesting you are taking some of my cookies, I would still want more information before I could answer this question. I know that the question assumes I would come up with an answer of two, but the word problem does not take into consideration that I still want to know what kind of cookies we are talking about in the first place. (Because this could weigh heavy on how my sinful heart will answer that question.)
As the math problems became more complex and my mind began to grow in understanding (and of course my heart converted from a heart of stone) I increased with the ability to think through complex matters with better reason and conclude what the right answer was.
This was due to multiple factors.
First, word definitions must remain consistent throughout the word problem. Second, the basic rules of logic and the application of a logical conclusion was expected in the question and proven with an answer that was in agreement with the first.
The problem with today is that the questions being presented are not following the general rules of logic or truth. They are presented from flawed propositions.
Grade school math did not teach me how to survive this kind of unpredictable day. Grade school math taught me to assume that the question was true. It taught me to believe the original source was as reliable as true north on my compass. What has happened is that those asking the questions today don’t care if they get a true or correct answer, they only want you to comply with what they want you to do at the moment. (And no need to show your work, because to do so might expose that their question is flawed in the first place.)
Think of it like this… A train left the train yard in Shoshone at 2 p.m. traveling at an average speed of 45 mph. What time did it arrive in Boise, 116.5 miles away?
Our basic grade school math teacher gave us everything we needed to know to figure this out. As a matter of fact, you should send your grade school teacher a thank you note.
The problem today is that those posing the questions don’t really care about you figuring anything out. They really just want to give you enough information to make you think you are thinking. What they really want you to do is look for your phone and ask Google, Facebook, or the government to just tell you what the answer is so you know when and how to comply. Who cares about showing your work, they don’t seem interested. They really seem pleased to let you think you are thinking by doing what you are told to do.
The questions today are more like, “A train is heading east. When will it arrive?” The question is designed to cause you to grow frustrated, quit asking questions, and just go to the train station so they can tie you to the tracks.
If you are in the practice of not thinking, you may find yourself without any cookies too.
Oh, and one more thing. You can’t get from Shoshone to Boise on a train anymore. Unless you are a sheep heading to the market.
Paul Thompson is the preaching pastor at Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls. Eastside Baptist gathers at 204 Eastland Drive North in Twin Falls at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sundays and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. More information can be gathered at esbcTwinFalls.com.