I Khan’t Take This

Maybe it was Dan’s post that prompted me to spend some measurable time at Khan Academy late last night.

I created an account at KA and was there for 37 minutes. I wanted to do some “practice” so it gave me a nice celestial menu to choose from. I chose Fractions — a concept that seems a perennial thorn in the side of any young student.


There were 8 cards/questions per “stack,” and the 8 questions were of these types:

Circle graphs

What fraction of this circle is shaded green?

I expected to see these, but I didn’t expect them to be divided into 9 sections. The last time I divided up a circular anything into 9 or any odd-numbered pieces was never.

circle graph

Number lines

Move the orange dot to 2/4 on the number line.

number line

The Common Core is jam packed with references to the number line as a model for representing numbers, so I’m always glad to see them.

But KA provided a number line that was already partitioned into fourths, thus I expected it to get harder in the next stack or two. But it didn’t. It was not challenging to mark 3/6 and 2/6 on a segment of sixths, or 4/5 on a segment of fifths.

Fraction to Decimal

Express the fraction 30/31 as a decimal, rounded to the thousandths.

Having to divide a 2-digit by a 2-digit to the ten thousandths place — so it could be rounded to the thousandths — is the work of the devil. I reached for my calculator while cognizant of kids having to do this by hand.

Similar questions of converting fractions to decimals — rounded to the thousandths — kept popping up. These were the exact fractions I’d encountered and this many in the span of 30 minutes: 10/21, 25/28, 23/25, 1/30, 20/27, 12/23, 28/29, 11/24, 14/19, 7/16, 25/29, 7/17.

While I had correctly answered these questions (by cheating and using a calculator, thanks), I was befuddled why I was dragged through more of the same nonsense. This computer task was clearly not adaptive.


What is the denominator of the fraction 4/7?

What is the numerator of the fraction 1/12?

What?! Please, Mr. Khan, you just gave me a smiley face for dividing-28-by-29-and-rounded-to-the-fucking-thousandths-to-get-0.966 and now you wonder if I knew the difference between a numerator and a denominator?

Fractions/Mixed Numbers

Multiply, reduce to lowest terms, and turn into a mixed number: 2 1/5 × 3 1/3

Express your answer as a mixed number simplified to lowest terms: 8 3/8 − 5 6/12

8/14 + 5/14 = ?

8 − 5 4/8 = ?

8/19 − 2/19 = ?

9/4 ÷ 1/9 = ?

These were okay. But I was asked to practice a lot of different skills in one stack of cards. When I clicked on HINT for the division problem, I was prompted to turn it into a multiplication problem 9/4 × 9/1. I wanted to know why though. Maybe I had to watch a video to get that explanation.

Word problems

Luis ate 2 slices of pizza, and Emily ate 2 slices. If there were initially 6 slices, what fraction of the pizza is remaining?

Vanessa ate 5 slices of cake, and Emily ate 2 slices. If there were initially 8 slices, what fraction of the cake was eaten?

Gabriela ate 4 slices of cake, and Umaima ate 2 slices. If there were 5 slices remaining, what fraction of the cake was eaten?

Vanessa ate 1 slice of pizza, and Emily ate 5 slices. If there were initially 11 slices, what fraction of the pizza was eaten?

My answer: Emily is a pig.


What number could replace ∇ in 10/7 = 30/∇?

… 1/12 = 8/∇

… 1/3 = ∇/9

These were okay too. But I was getting really tired, even with a calculator. I did NOT want to earn any more leaves! What’s with all the badges? Can I trade these 24 leaves in for an IPA?


But wait. There’s more. You get more than just math. On every card — above each and every question — was a motivational message.

If you don’t first succeed, try again!

Concentrate and you will succeed!

This might be a tough problem, but we know you can do it!

Set your goals high, and don’t stop until you get there!

The more exercise you get the better you can concentrate!

The most effective way to do something is just to do it.

Always do your best and you’ll get something out of the experience!

We believe in you!

Getting enough rest is important in thinking clearly.

Some of these problems are hard. Do your best!

Every single one of these makes me fart.

Takeaway lesson: Don’t read Dan’s post late at night.

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