“There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in the flock. How old is the shepherd?”

Seeing this question automatically makes me think I’m missing something, so I reread it. Nope, it doesn’t doesn’t make sense. One student answered the same as I did, “It doesn’t make sense.” After he said that a little *ding* went off and a score popped up in the top right corner of the screen.

The second student subtracted the number of dogs from the number of sheep, deciding that meant to shepherd is 120 years old. The student used whatever number they had in front of them to solve the question at hand, which is a common method I myself have used countless times. To my surprise, 23 other students used the same method. Either by subtracting, dividing, or using mental math, these 8th grade students worked with what they had in front of them. In my opinion, these students worked through the problem that didn’t make sense because we’re trained to do that.

In the end, only 8 students understood the problem didn’t make sense. The rest of the article is another classroom given a similar styled question: confusing. I must say, it is interesting watching students brains unravel on video with a simple story problem.

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