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Many of us familiar with the feeling that maths is just impossible.
But surely a question meant for fifth graders, who are around the age of 11, should be doable – right?
Well, this question from a Chinese maths paper has left swathes of the internet bowing down and admitting defeat.
According to the BBC, the question asks:
If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship's captain?
The South China Morning Post reported the creative answers that students were forced to come up with.
One desperate kid wrote:
The captain is 36 years old. He is quite narcissistic, so the number of animals corresponds to his age.
Yep – we live in a self-obsessed age of selfies, mirrors and ever-growing livestock collections.
This person reasoned:
The captain is 36, because 26+10 is 36 and the captain wanted them to add up to his age.
While another just wrote what we were all thinking:
The number of the sheep and goats is irrelevant to the captain’s age.
And one student simply gave up:
The captain's age is... I don't know. I can't solve this.
If someone has zero sheep and zero goats, what does that mean? Are they ageless? Shall we rewrite physics?
In a statement, Shunqing Education Department confirmed there was no answer.
The role of education is not to produce standardised spare parts... Each answer can reflect a different personality. A question that can have different answers is a good question.