Sometimes we come across children’s classroom questions that stump us. This is one of them.
A math word problem about two men eating pizza is driving the internet insane, as we can’t quite work out what’s going on.
The question was posted on Reddit by user ‘xtreme1461’, and lengthy discussion has since ensued.
— A Plus (@aplusapp) March 24, 2016
The question reads: “Reasonableness: Marty ate 4/6 of his pizza and Luis ate 5/6 of his pizza. Marty ate more pizza than Luis. How is that possible?
The child’s answer was: “Marty’s pizza is bigger than Luis’s pizza.”
It was marked wrong, and this was the teacher’s response: “That is not possible because 5/6 is greater than 4/6 so Luis ate more.”
A Plus had an answer of their own to explain: “A fraction is a unit of measurement. A pizza is not. There is no uniform size for a pizza. It is not an absolute unit.
“The question does not explicitly state that the pizzas were the exact same size. The only information available are two statements and a question that, as worded, requires an outcome of possibility based on the preceding statements.”
But another Reddit user, akartherder, had an interesting point. The teacher could have previously established that the pizzas were the same size in previous questions.
If that was understood and then ignored by the student, then the teacher is correct in marking his answer impossible.
Another user, AllUltima, said the question comes down to the term “reasonableness” which is supposed to teach kids to think critically about whether an answer could be correct, to help with simple arithmetic errors.
But, the question wasn’t worded correctly: “This question is terribly worded. ‘How is that possible’ sounds like you’re supposed to reason a way it could be possible. They really should do a better job making sure it’s actually not possible, as worded “Marty has a bigger pizza” is a perfectly logical conclusion to the question as worded. And the teacher should recognize the poorly worded question.”
The question should have been worded: “Assuming both pizzas are the same size, is this possible?”