One high school teacher in Illinois tried an unconventional way of getting students to care about math—drugs.
The Roxana, Ill., teacher sent his students home with math homework with word problems centered on cocaine and how much money they might owe a theoretical dealer.
Predictably, this created a stir among parents, as ABC affiliate ABC 13 reports.
“I think they could have used something else, maybe cans of soda, bottles of water, fruit, something you can put weights to; no cocaine or drugs—that’s not very good,” said Christina Metz, a parent whose kid attends Roxana High School.
According to KTVI-TV, parents felt the questions were “not only in bad taste but gave the impression the teacher was making light of drug use.”
They also, in this former teacher’s humble opinion, didn’t seem to make much sense. Take this head-scratcher of a question:
You take six hundred milligrams of cocaine, your body filters out forty percent per hour, how high are you in three hours?
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I’m no expert, but I’m fairly certain the only way to answer “How high are you?” is on a scale of “Not at all” to “High AF.” I think the phrasing he wanted was, “How much cocaine is left in your body?”
Another sample question:
Unfortunately, you can’t pay your dealer and she sets up a payment, you owe her $1,000 and 25-percent daily, how much do you owe her one year later?
What kind of predatory loan shark of a dealer—25 percent every day? That’s not even realistic. At that rate, you need to be paying her yesterday.
But, yes, also—the drug part.
Making math appealing to students who may have decided that it’s just not for them is challenging—word problems offer a way to make math processes more relatable, relevant or memorable.
But, my dude (the ABC 13 story doesn’t identify the teacher by name, but does refer to the teacher as “he”), using hard drugs as your point of reference isn’t the smartest thing you can do.
In the teacher’s defense, the school principal told ABC 13 that the equations were “written in class,” which could mean the unconventional questions may have been generated by the students as part of a class exercise. The Roxana School District, on the other hand, called the word problems examples of poor judgment.
The teacher, for his part, has apologized to his students and to parents for his “lapse in judgment,” and stressed that his intent was never to “make light of illicit drug use,” the school district wrote in a statement.
It added that the incident was being investigated as a personnel matter, per district policy.