Math Word Problems

Letter to My Students

First, as always and since July 3, 1989 – I love you.  You mean a lot to me.  One of the cool things about being a high school music teacher?  More often than not … MUCH MORE OFTEN (sorry – NOT sorry – for the poor grammar; I am a  music teacher, not an English teacher & writing is a hobby for me, like golf – both hobbies humble me 😊) … the students who are in my music classes choose to be there.  So, any human being who chooses to be with me is a BLESSING / a gift / and I am honored!  One more time… and not the last time … I love you.

My thought for my students today is: please … block the idea that the outside of you or anyone is THE best side of you and the most important side of you!  BLOCK THAT CRAP! 

What is the best side or really … could be the most important side …  YOUR HEART!! 

Right now, there is a battle:  how we should teach you?  Not what we are teaching you.  NOPE.  How we are teaching you.

For example, math word problems. 

In 1977, when I was in elementary school, the mathematical word problems would be something like this:  
Alice has $750 in bills for the month.  She earns $1,000 a month.  When Alice is done paying bills, how much money does Alice have for the rest of the month? 

Now, in 2021, here is a possible math word problem (sent to me by a friend):
Alice is growing up in a family with 3 siblings and a mother, but no father. Her mother collects $750 per month per child in welfare, $1000 per month in welfare for herself, $1500 per month in food stamps and free Healthcare. 

Alice just turned 16 and is trying to decide if she should stay in school with a goal of continuing her education at a college or vocational school and get a part time job at minimum wage, or drop out of school and start a “family” of her own and be just like her mom. 

What should Alice do and list your reasons for your decision. 

Do you see the difference between the two math word problems? 

Why do we need to have all this information about Alice?  What are we teaching?  I just want the student to be able to create the equation and solve the answer.  THAT’S IT!!  Don’t want to shine a light on fatherless homes.  Single-parent homes.  Make welfare an acceptable norm. (My mom was on welfare and was very embarrassed.  Just in case you were wondering about my perception of welfare; welfare is not meant to be a lifestyle / way of life) 

Here is my point… what is inside you is greater than what you are on the outside.  As old-fashioned as that (what is inside you is greater than what you are on the outside) is and contradicts the hip young teacher telling you …  race is super important; gender “identity” is over the top important; and on and on and on… what is truly important is your HEART!  Your heart is more important than anything else.  Before you make radical changes to you physically / spiritually, CHANGE YOUR HEART.  Fill your heart with boundless amounts of LOVE!  Love your race.  Love your ethnicity.  Love your gender.  LOVE YOU!  

My students … (NOT MY CLASS – FOR SURE) some of you are getting some sort of assignment entitled “Social Identity Category Response Sheet.”  How does this assignment uplift me (the student) or anyone?  How is this assignment improving me from the inside?  What is the purpose of the assignment? 

Go look at writings of great philosophers and read what they write about “guard your heart.”

Today hip / cool / college educated  “Philosophers” write this quote: 
Don’t tell me that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty.  Because in this society it isn’t.  No one gives you a chance to see if you’re beautiful on the inside if you aren’t on the outside. 

You know why this horrifying quote exists?  Because we (many teachers AND ADULTS / PARENTS) are not working on the inside.  The hip / cool / college educated “Philosophers” are making the outside (skin color / gender / identity / looks / etc.) more important than what it needs to be.       

So, let me leave you with this… and this is something that I am not “allowed” to share with you on public school campuses in California (where I live and teach).  Hence, why I have a BLOG.  My freedom is on the BLOG. 

The Golden Rule.  The Golden Rule applies to all of this.  You don’t follow or use the Golden Rule ONLY for people who look like you / think like you / believe like you.  NOPE.  If you have a loving heart, you follow & use the Golden Rule for all humans. 

From the Founders Bible
In the later part of Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus delivers what today is known as the Golden Rule (Mr. Everts addition:  Yes… I know… there are reports, the Golden Rule was said HUNDREDS OF YEARS prior to this well-known Sermon; hundreds of years prior to Jesus’s sermon / 2,021 years later, we seem to still have billions of people who do not understand the rule), instructing the people:

     In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).

Ever since Jesus raised that standard two millennia ago, it has remained not only the benchmark of how we should treat others, but also our motivation for doing so.  The Golden Rule was regularly invoked by earl American leaders. 

For example (Mr. Everts addition:  did you hear the following in your US history class?), Founding Father Henry Laurens (1723-1792), a president of Congress during the American Revolution, hoped that Americans living by the Golden Rule would lead to the END OF SLAVERY, anticipating:
       I abhor slavery …. The day, I hope is approaching when, from principles of gratitude as well as justice, every man will strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to comply with the Golden Rule.”  (Mr. Everts addition:  do you even know who Henry Laurens was?  I know it’s Wikipedia … calm down … )   

John Adams saw the Golden Rule as a Christian teaching that would produce a society and culture that would be blessing to all citizens:
     One great advantage of the Christian religion is that it brings great principle of the law of nature and nations (Love your neighbor as yourself [Luke 10:27], and do to other as you would that other should to you [Matthew 7:12]) to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people.   


  • Work on your heart. 
  • Guard your heart. 
  • Listen to uplifting music. 
  • Because we are human beings first who happen to look different, be with folks who truly want to bring us together.  People who look different can act the same.  Judge their actions!  Let their actions need to lead to your decision to add them to your life! 
  • Your life is too important to have negative folks or shallow folks who only care about the outside or history you had no part of.  Seriously.  Think about that one.  Understand, we can choose how to look at people!  You are responsible for the time you are on this planet and not your dead relatives!!  Just saying the obvious.  
  • Study our nation’s history.  Read the Founding Father’s documents.  Arrive to your own conclusion(s).  Understand those documents have been the foundation for our nation for hundreds of years. Our nation has fixed many wrongs while other nations still abuse those who look different / believe in God and more.  Literally abuse – forced sterilization / harvesting body organs / slave labor / etc. 
  • There is a LOT OF LOVE in our Founding Fathers’ documents!    

May our loving actions attract and create loving people. 

Respect + Responsible + Discipline + Integrity + Faith = LOVE.   Now, that is a word problem I understand!     

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