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Math Test

  • 1960s arithmetic test: “a logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?”
  • 1970s new-math test: “A logger exchanges a set (L) of lumber for a set (M) of money. The cardinality of Set M is 100. The Set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?”
  • 1980s “dumbed down” version: “A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost is $80, his profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20.”
  • 1990s version: “An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?”

Illustration Digest, Reader’s Digest, January 1996, p. 82.