Moms Columns & Blogs

Lost in the riddle of 2nd grade math

My second-grader brings home his math homework. Boy, math sure has changed. It's not even a numbers problem, it's more like a riddle:

"Miss Green, Mrs. White, Mr. Black and Mr. Brown are all teachers. The men have one more student in their class than their room number. The women each have two less students than their room number. Miss Green is in Room 24, Mrs. White in Room 20 and Mr. Brown is in Room 17. If the 4 teachers have a total of 82 students, in what room is Mr. Black?"


This is a riddle wrapped in an enigma - jammed into a Rubik's Cube. Could somebody actually read this and solve this in their head? Because I would have to draw a full-blown diagram to sort this one out, starting with a floor plan of the school, just to get my bearings.

But even with a blueprint, I have a lot of problems with this problem. Like why are all the teachers named after crayons? And is Mr. Black, by chance, married to Mrs. White?

And doesn't the men having one more student than their room number, and the women having two students less than their room number, mean the men have more students than the women? What are they trying to say, that men are better teachers? The men can handle more students?

I'm going to assume the women are teaching Gifted and Talented or something and therefore have a smaller, more concentrated group of students with which to work. Heaven help them if Mr. Black has a kid that moves up to GT; then one woman is going to have one less student than her room number, and Mr. Black is going to have the same number of students in his classroom - wherever it is. Not so black and white now, is it?

Here's another one:

"On a baseball team, Moran, Parker and Jones each played one of the three positions of pitcher, catcher and second baseman, though not necessarily in that order. The second baseman, playing his first season with the team, had the lowest salary. Moran, who along with Parker had played two seasons with this team, earned more than the pitcher. Who was the pitcher?"

Uh, I believe this one has been done before. By Abbott and Costello. And we all know that Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third, and Tomorrow is the pitcher. And since when does a catcher make more than a pitcher? Pitchers make like a gazillion dollars and they're the ones hanging on my son's wall, not the catcher.

And I take issue with naming one of these characters "Moran." It's just a little to close to what I feel like when I'm trying to figure these things out. Stick with Bob, Joe or Bill. Or take a page from Abbott and Costello, and name him Why.

Better yet - can we please just go back to flashcards?