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Teaching Maths Through the Decades

Comment 17th July 2010

Teaching Maths through the Decades

  • Teaching Maths In 1970
    A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
    His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
    What is his profit?
  • Teaching Maths In 1980
    A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
    His cost of production is 80% of the price.
    What is his profit?
  • Teaching Maths In 1990
    A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
    His cost of production is £80.
    How much was his profit?
  • Teaching Maths In 2000
    A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
    His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20.
    Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
  • Teaching Maths In 2005
    A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. Your assignment:  Discuss how the birds and squirrels might feel as the logger cuts down their homes just for a measly profit of £20.
  • Teaching Maths In 2009
    A logger is arrested for trying to cut down a tree in case it may be offensive to Muslims or other religious groups not consulted in the felling licence. He is also fined a £100 as his chainsaw is in breach of Health and Safety legislation as it deemed too dangerous and might even cut something. He has used the chainsaw for over 20 years without incident; however, he does not have the correct certificate of competency and is therefore considered to be a recidivist and habitual criminal. His DNA is sampled and his details circulated throughout all government agencies. He protests and is taken to court and fined another £100, simply because he is such an easy target. When he is released, he returns to find Gypsies have cut down half his wood to build a camp on his land.  He tries to throw them off but is arrested, prosecuted for harassing an ethnic minority, imprisoned and fined a further £100.  While he is in jail the Gypsies cut down the rest of his wood and sell it on the black market for £100 cash.  They also have a farewell BBQ of squirrel and pheasant and then leave behind several tonnes of rubbish and asbestos sheeting. The forester on release is warned that failure to clear the fly-tipped rubbish immediately at his own cost is an offence. He complains and is arrested for environmental pollution, breach of the peace and invoiced £12,000 plus VAT for safe disposal costs by a regulated government contractor.

    Your assignment:  How many times is the logger going to have to be arrested and fined before he realises that he is never going to make £20 profit by hard work, gives up, signs onto the dole and lives off the state for the rest of his life?

Why does this matter?

Although the above skit may be fanciful, it's almost too close to the bone to be amusing. It serves to illustrate just how attitudes across the board have changed in recent decades and how the 'Elf 'n Safety' brigade has gradually gained such ascendency.

The historical British penchant for wealth-creation which gave us all our freedoms, influence and quality of life over the centuries has been completely lost sight of in so many sectors.

Just one recent example; a self-employed friend of mine mentioned to his local Council that his short delay in paying his Council Tax was because he was struggling to afford his Inland Revenue Tax bill at the same time. The response from the Council 'jobsworth' was, "Why not close your business down, if you can't afford to pay your tax?"!

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