Kiera, Larry and Gita picked apples in an orchard. Kiera picked twice as many apples as Larry. Kiera also picked three times as many apples as Gita. A total of 8,360 apples were picked between the three of them. How many apples did Kiera, Larry and Gita each pick? Also use a bar graph to illustrate you answer.

Okay, can you figure out the answer?

I was asked to help a friend's child with a division problem and this is what I was presented with. Keep in mind that the child was not in some fancy elite private school of geniuses. This question was given in an ordinary public school and in an ordinary class. While the child thought that this was a division problem it is actually a very sophisticated algebra problem. In addition, the child did not know her timetables, was not very comfortable with division and was unable to solve even a very simple algebra problem I gave her. The teacher had not even begun teaching algebra. I asked for the name of the book where the question came from, but she child did not know. The current practice many public schools is to give students pages from textbooks, but not actually give the books to the students. If parents had access to the textbook they could look for examples to help them figure out difficult problems.

I called a friend, who has been a computer engineer for decades, but he had no idea how to solve the problem. I called another friend who is a finance VP at an insurance company, but he quickly gave up on trying tofigure out this problem. I had calculus, statistics and many years of algebra, but I could not readily figure it out. I did find a website that partially worked out the answer, but its explanation was confusing.

Does anyone have a logical explanation as to why such a problem was given to a 5^{th} grader who obviously had not been prepared to answer such a question? Not only can't most college educated adults figure questions like this, but such questions will almost never come up in the real world. It seems like the trend in public schools is to frustrate young students as much as possible. This will cause increasing numbers of students to hate school and to drop out as soon as possible. Something needs to be done to stop this draconian unrealistic curriculum being shoved down the throats of children.