Simple Math

Word problems in math can be a bit confusing. A popular e-card that floats around from time to time explains the trouble we can have with word problems.


It seems that word problems aren’t only for the classroom.

Three things in your life are causing you stress. One of them is far away and cannot be removed by anything but time. The second is close – in your face daily – and will soon remove itself. The third is also close but randomly changes from stress to satisfaction and back again. You need to remove a stressor but can only remove one. Do you wait for the first and second to go away on their own? Or do you remove the third because it’s the only thing you have control over.


What if the obvious answer isn’t the one you want? What if you’re afraid removing the wrong one will cause you more stress? Sometimes the solution to a math problem isn’t a positive answer. Some tests will let you skip a problem and return to it later. But often in the exam called life, you cannot solve the next problem until you have answered the one before it.

So, what will it be? Stressor #1? Stressor #2? Or Stressor #3? Will you choose the one you have control over? Or will you wait until the other two resolve themselves? Can you wait that long?

Or is the answer something similar to what intelligence assessors look for: creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to come to an answer no one had proposed before?

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