Sunday, 21 February 2010

Educational Progress

As it's kinda Antiques Roadshow time, take a look at this artwork which is housed in Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery.

Painted in 1845, it portrays Russian schoolkids (ten years old, maybe?) pensively solving a maths puzzle written on the blackboard by their teacher. No calculators, no pencil and paper, but they look eager to try. Confident, even.

The sum in question is below.

Reckon kids of that age in our much-vaunted state system could perform mental gymnastics such as this?

Actually, don't answer that.

(If you attempt it yourself, no cheating allowed)


Barman said...


Dick Puddlecote said...


Frank Davis said...


But I had to use pen and paper a bit - too many numbers for me to remember.

Anonymous said...

OK, so I gave this to my thirteen year old daughter. She did it in her head and got the right answer quickly.

We home educate our kids.

Private Widdle said...

If you do it in sequence, the first three sums = 365, so the answer's always going to be two. You do the fourth and fifth independently to verify it. Still bloody hard to do in your head though, and not a million miles away from stuff we were taught at my grammar school at a similar age. These days they do some maths at A level that we did at the age of twelve. I'm 50.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 21:02: "We home educate our kids."

So do I even though they go to the local comp every day. ;-)

bayard said...

I found the easiest way was to add 10x10 to 10x11 to 10x12 etc, then add on the missing 11, 12s, 13s etc. Less numbers to hold in your head at one time. Could probably have done it at ten, but I'm a similar age to PW above (and had a very good primary school teacher).

Mrs Rigby said...

Phew, I needed a piece of paper because I couldn't remember all the numbers (out of practice I suppose) but I ended up with two too.

MU said...

That really is a magnificent painting. The joy of learning captured in the child at the front is quite moving, I feel

BTS said...

I got it in a few seconds by estimating it based on the grounds that the answer would be a whole number. Then I worked it out. Which took a minute or two as I was rolling a cigarette.

So technically I used paper, but not a pen. Do I still get a prize..?

w/v: facksub - an unfortunate incident involving a freshly prepared footlong sandwich whilst frequenting a well known franchise store followed by a visit to the A&E department..?

Or possibly the latest for Trident..?

Anonymous said...

While this may be true, one must remember that in 1845 these poor children missed out on learning the truth about manmade-global-warming-danger, second-hand-smoke-harm, third-hand-smoke, the danger of not recycling properly, pagan theology, the goodness of voting Labour, why MPs are expense privileged, how propaganda requires coordination, the need for a centralized Europe, why a single world-government works best, why CCTVs are useful, why there should be a law against and a ban on any sort of human activity imagineable involving personal choice - the list could go on - but my point is, clearly, while learning how to think logically and independently, to desire freedom, truth and justice, learn solid math, reading, grammar and writing skills - they clearly missed out on the more important matters - like our children today are privileged to enjoy - in lieu of the other, which is no longer valued.

What a strange time that must have been. Why some of them probably even went so far as living very long lives and not realizing that by smoking, drinking and eating as they please they were really miserable after all - unlike ourselves, who are nowadays better educated and enjoying great prosperity, freedom and happiness, as a result of our most progressive modern school system.

Unknown said...

As someone who left school less than half a decade ago I'd like to point out that I managed this one without needing pen+paper, let alone a calculator.

Maybe it's just that all the way through (including during) GCSE's I had at least one maths lesson a week that was purely metal arithmetic - sums like this were common place, as was calculus and advanced algebra.

We weren't allowed to use calculators until the very last term before the exams, and I still managed over 90%.

Then again I wasn't in this country for my education, and my parents had to pay for it.

Dick the Prick said...

Sorry, sorry - but couldn't be arsed to try without pen & paper as err.. I'm not 10 anymore and a lot more fucking lazy. Still, kudos to those who did and bravo for the thread and cheering me up that it ain't the kids who are dumb but the fucking useless teachers.