Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another sign of the American Apocalypse

Here's a sample question from the Achieve ADP Algebra I End-of-Course Exam.

Determine the vertex of the function f(x) = 4x2 − 8x − 5

Here's a sample food label found on the back of the jar of peanut butter I dolloped into my oatmeal this fine Sunday morning:

If we need to spell out to Americans that peanut butter with "organic dry roasted peanuts" means it has PEANUTS in it, what chance do we have teaching the same population the intricacies of algebra or of the natural world?

The photo was taken from the back of my peanut butter.


Tracy Rosen said...

As always, love your commentary on the world around us.

I do have a quick rationale for why the bold 'Contains peanuts', though.

It's somewhere at the intersection of allergies and the covering our buttness of most companies.

Anything that can be potentially allergy-inducing (peanuts, soy, wheat, milk, and I am sure that list will only get longer) seems to now be showing up in bold at the bottom of ingredient lists. On one hand this is a good thing for those parents who need to scan each label attached to the foods they buy for allergic kids. Sometimes the lists are akin to Russian literature and this saves time (though most parents I know read the list anyways, so this part of the rationale is somewhat moot).

On the other hand, this is a way for companies to ward off litigious consumers. Remember the somewhere close to 3 million (that's dollars!) reasons McDonald's paper coffee cups have 'warning, contents are hot' signs on them?

And that pretty much gets us back to your original theory - do we really have a hope to teach advanced learning theories to a society that doesn't recognize that coffee is hot and peanuts contain peanuts?

Or could it be that people do know this but will do pretty much anything to make a buck?

Tom Hoffman said...

I noticed the same thing on the matzo box this morning, although to be fair, it has two ingredients (wheat and water) so it is a little more complicated for the person allergic to wheat.

doyle said...

Dear Tracy,

I get it, I suppose--we live in a country that has to warn customers not to use ordinary vacuum cleaners to suck up water, and I worked in an ER long enough to know that stupidity has no bounds. Still...

(Happy Birthday, Jack!)

Dear Tom,

Some day someone's going to claim allergy to water....

Tracy Rosen said...

Guess what? I had to google it and yes, I found 'The girl who was allergic to water!'