Friday, January 7, 2011

Best Homeschool Lessons: J. Algebra Prufrock

Since I'm still without access to my files of Mommy quotes from the last year, I thought I'd start a new series: great moments or lessons from homeschool. These aren't necessarily in order, but I'll pick out some of my favorites.

Here is a math problem I wrote for Eric, back in September. It is part of my literary algebra series.

J. Alfred Prufrock is frustrated. He feels a sense of futility about school. In his literature class, his grade is calculated based on the following:

Homework average: 10%
Class participation: 5%
Test 1: 15%
Test 2: 15%
Essay: 20%
Final Exam: 35%

Despite a a reasonable amount of study, J. Alfred Prufrock just doesn't "get" 20th-century British literature. His homework grades are 90%, 100%, 95%, and 85%. His class participation is 100%. His first two tests were 80% and 74%.

His ten-page essay, however, got a D- of 67%. His professor made sarcastic marginal notes about Prufrock's inability to analyze symbolism or irony.

What score does J. Alfred need on the final to get at least a B (85%) for the semester?

[Eric calculated the problem on a separate sheet of paper. He got it right, naturally.]

As you correctly calculated, he needs a 97.86% on the final exam. It seems impossible, but he tries anyway. "I dare disturb the universe!" he proclaims, and begins studying.

Sadly, he only earns a 92%, thus proving the futility of fighting fate.

Depressed, he loses his scholarship, drops out of school, and grows a beard.

After a year, he grows up, goes back to school, and switches majors to civil engineering, where the answers are both quantifiable and ultimately important. (It really does matter whether one calculates the stress on a bridge truss correctly.)

Full text:
Study guide:


Krenn said...

I'm told there are literary references here I'm not getting. Will Eric be studying these same references at a later date?

Brian Thomas said...

True story :) I got a B+ in my high school literature class, "dropped out" into engineering, and never looked back.

Carolyn said...

When are you going to write an Importance of Being Earnest problem? I made some obscure literary references to that play today...