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Teacher allegedly gives kids gruesome math problems

A teacher decides that is the place to find interesting problems for her students. Unfortunately, the problems involve bloodsucking and dying from swallowing marbles.

Advertiser IXL would like you to know it's not responsible for the math problems to which offense was taken. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

All the children I know seem to enjoy a good horror movie.

Not all, though, may enjoy that horror being transmitted to their math classes. For a teacher who allegedly downloaded some colorfully horrific math problems with which to fascinate her third-graders, has been fired.

WUSA9 TV offered a very spooky tale of a teacher at Trinidad Center City School in Washington, D.C. who allegedly presented this problem to his kiddies: "I took a nap in a bog one day and woke up screaming. 3,796 leeches, 2,910 fleas and 1,044 vampire bats were stuck to my bald head drinking my blood in ecstasy. How many bloodthirsty bloodsuckers were dining on my head?"

Surely at the least the boys who tear the legs off spiders would have enjoyed this? It seems not.

Beverley Wheeler, the CEO of Center City Public Charter Schools, told WUSA9: "I was absolutely distressed. It doesn't follow anything we do. We are about character, excellence, and service, and I found them to be violent and racist."

One problem, for example, had a tiger cooking Africans, Americans, and Indians in ovens.

And here's another: "John's father gave him 1,359 marbles on his birthday. John swallowed 585 marbles and died. 9 of John's friends came for his funeral the next day. John's grieving father gave the remaining marbles to John's friends in equal numbers. How many marbles did each friend get?"

You might wonder whether these problems came from the teacher's interesting imagination. It seems not, for they came from (Sample line: "Creating this Web site is so much fun.")

This is a very peculiar site that asks, "Want your kids to sharpen their mathematical skills to a razor's edge? There is nothing better than grinding their neurons on Singapore math."

Chris Murphy, the creator of, told WUSA9 that he was tired of hearing that kids didn't like math, so he created problems that were a little more pulsating.

There also seems to be some doubt about whether the teacher--reportedly a minister--chose to assign these problems to the children or whether someone else instructed her to do so. The school insists that, whichever it was, she should have known better.

The WUSA9 report offered no evidence that the children themselves were traumatized in any way. Which doesn't mean to say that they weren't.

Still, given the need to create more and more coders to populate our digital world, who can be surprised that some educators are trying--however misguidedly--to make math slightly less, well, gruesome?