Why Would I Ever Need to Know This?

Why would anyone ever ask a question such as this one found in a Common Core “EngageNY” module:

“James drinks 800 mL of water each day during his workout. Henry drinks 600 mL daily during his workout.
If James works out 3 days each week, and Henry works out 5 days each week, how many liters do the
boys drink in all each week while working out?”

I’m asking “Who cares?” I suspect more than a few fifth graders are asking this as well.


And this is being put forward as a part of a model lesson that teachers all over NY are being pressured to use in order to ensure that their teaching scores are high this year.


When I was in seventh grade I distinctly remember starting to ask my math teacher why I needed to know this stuff. He didn’t have an answer. It was at that point that I began to wonder about the value of this thing called school. Prior to that point I loved school. Coincidentally, this math teacher began to treat me as if I were a trouble maker. I didn’t ask the question in order to make trouble. Why did he treat me this way?


Let’s face it. Creating meaningful math problems that demonstrate the value of the math we’re teaching and learning is HARD WORK. One of the people whom I admire for his leadership and ingenuity in this area is Dan Meyer. Check out his blog.


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