Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Fruit Arithmatic


Don’t worry, no advanced mathematics here. It always used to annoy me (actually, it still does) how teachers say “You can’t add apples and oranges” to children to make sure they have consistent units. I understand what they want to say (that you can’t add one minute to one hour and get two of anything), but I disagree with the way they say it.

The problem is, if I have two apples and three oranges, I wouldn’t hesitate to add them together, and say I had five pieces of fruit. This was drilled into me by my parents, who would often say to me when I was a child, “No more, you’ve already had five sweets.” Even though I’d actually only had one fizzer, two toffees and two sparkles, and of course, those can’t be added together.

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