How many is most?

Following on (finally) from the previous maths-related post, I saw this in an Edexcel maths exam paper:

May 2013 002

Question (a) is “How did most of the students travel to school?” My answer was “by vehicle”, since car+cycle+bus = 55%. But the maths teacher told me the correct answer is “walk” since it’s the largest piece of pie. Apparently, maths teachers speak a different language from the rest of us.



Now, call me a pedant, but “3+4” is not the same as “5+2”. If someone asks for 3 shirts and 4 skirts and you bring them 5 shirts and 2 skirts, you’ve made a mistake. Whoever wrote this question was writing with a blinkered maths-testing point of view rather than with a human point of view, yet trying to use everyday words. If you’re expecting a maths answer you should use a maths word: “equals”.

Uh, kinda

A document called “Year 7 Languages Induction Course Information Booklet” has come into my possession – apparently from a secondary school in Sutton Coldfield. I like the idea that a school is educating its pupils about language; it’s just a shame about the misinformation…

Das ist Frau Ehlers. Frau Ehlers steht vor dem Herd. (1)

page 10-11

When I was teaching at a school in Tipton, I found a copy of the textbook “Sprich Mal Deutsch!” and had a flick through. The school had bought a set of these textbooks in 1981; this was the second edition, the first edition having come out in 1967. The methodology is very old-fashioned, which was surprising enough (I remember having used Longmans Audio-Visual French at school back in the seventies, which was space-age stuff by comparison), but what was more shocking and/or funny was the blatant stereotyping.

page 16page 17

The book’s author, William Rowlinson, was a senior lecturer in Education at the University of Sheffield. He got out of the textbook game and into the dictionary game, which isn’t surprising, given the Victorian style of this book.

page 22-23

Rowlinson could almost be Walter Abish. (How German Is It came out in 1980.) We shall end our first glimpse into the world of the Ehlers with a little story:

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page 25