The Evolution of Math- A Joke

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.

Why do I tell you this? Please read more about the “History of Teaching Math”.

Teaching Math In 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?


Teaching Math In 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? (There are no wrong answers)


Teaching Math In 2005: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. >La cuesta de production es…………. :-\

Update: Just to be clear, I am not the author of this joke. It is currently floating around the net.

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  1. Mark May 31, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    “You forgot to mention accounting for covering the damage created by the subs.”

    No shit!

    My “subs” be carrying nukes.


  2. Jack's Shack May 31, 2007 at 7:25 am




    Schools are a big issue for me. I have been working hard to see that my children receive a very good education that is more than just books.


    😉 You forgot to mention accounting for covering the damage created by the subs.


    A river bursts into flame. How much pollution does it spread into the air. Use the pepper pike equation and cross multiply with the cuyahoga soloniac theorem.

    Soccer Dad,

    All true. I sit here corrected.


    As it should be,


    Is it pavo or huachalote.

  3. Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) May 29, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    at least it looks like with the spanish, the academic rigor of the question has gone back up 🙂 the spanish isn’t very good, though. ¡¿”production”?!

  4. Miriam L May 29, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    My kids’ math classes are tougher than the ones I took and their math skills are far better than mine.

  5. Soccer Dad May 29, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I think it’s been around for a decade or more. (Except for that part about the 2000’s)

  6. Stacey May 29, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    I have a degree in math and this country is completely lacking in its focus on math/science education.

  7. Mark May 29, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Teaching math in Northern California in 2007:

    Q. A contractor bids a job for $30,000 and includes a 10% profit margin. When the job is completed, what is his net profit?

    A. Is that next job ready to start? I need the deposit to cover overruns from the last job…

  8. Michael May 29, 2007 at 7:35 am

    I graduated high school in 91, but don’t remember being allowed to use a calculatot in trig.

    And I knew what the profit was in the first question; I guess I paid attention to arithmetic and fractions.

    It’s sad, the way schools are dumbing down the subjects. I hope Israeli schools are better; my Big Girl will start first grade in two years…

  9. The Babka Nosher May 29, 2007 at 2:43 am

    OMG! Too funny and too true!

  10. Jack's Shack May 29, 2007 at 2:34 am


    I have vague memories of being told that calculator watches were off limites.


    I graduated from Birmingham- 20 years ago. It was a different school than it is now. So many changes. I saw that story, so sad.

    Parental support is so very important.

  11. Tamara May 29, 2007 at 12:06 am

    Hi Jack,

    First, when I first started cashiering, late 80’s probabally, I was always thrown off when someone did the change like that. I eventually learned to count it but it’s no suprise if she was new.

    Now, as a high school teacher, of English, I can assure you that schools are failing our kids in math. Oh wait, I sound like a parent blaming. You see…the entire system is screwed. Here in L.A. for example we have less parental involvement in MOST (not all) communities. We have more single parent homes. We have more poverty and low income students. My school is 75% low income (determined by the school lunch program). So, as you see, with so many factors it’s no wonder kids can’t count. Math is the one subject that if a child isn’t getting support and regular practice at home, they fail.

    I just found this article last week based on a study done at Birmingham High School. It’s sad, 43% of students faily Algebra the first time. Read it here, I think you’ll find it interesting.

    The series is called: “A Vanishing Class”,1,2605555.story?coll=la-news-utility-education

  12. Stepping Over the Junk May 29, 2007 at 12:06 am

    THIS TOTALLY CRACKS ME UP! Mainly because you are so right and this is brilliant. Somewhere, the calculator comes in though. I actually recall at the end of high school (1991) being allowed to use a calculator for trig or pre calc. I cant remember which one.

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