It all started when the Holderness family noticed that their son Penn had brought home a completely perplexing math homework assignment. The North Carolina-based family stated that “this was the final page on a seven-page sheet, the previous six pages were a much more normal level for a first grader.”
The Holdernesses were initially impressed with the challenge the teacher had presented to the students: “I don’t think the teacher expects everyone to get this, I think it was meant to be a problem that would challenge the children, so for that reason I think it’s great that our school included it!”
However, after attempting to solve the ridiculous math problem unsuccessfully, the family took to Facebook, writing: “Internet friends: solve this 1st grade math homework. #showyourwork #mybrainhurts.”
Little did they know, it would also completely stump the internet.
The problem asked students to use a key with letters that each represent a number to figure out what should go in the box below. Looks like an innocent little math problem at first glance, but just take a minute to try to figure out the answer!
People on Facebook sure weren’t amused. One commenter said, “What the actual hell is the point of this? Am I missing something? Is there some skill that this absurdity is supposed to hone?” The Holderness family also commented: “I’m 40 and my brain cannot bend in these ways.”
One clever Facebook user summed it up: “You take the value of the S, B, and G and add them to get 40. Then you subtract the values of B and P from 40. That leaves a difference of 14, which is letter J. It all has to do with getting children to think in complex ways.”
If you’re still not sure how the hell someone (read: a six-year-old) could’ve thought all of that up by themselves, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Unsurprisingly, most of the Facebook commenters came to the agreement that this math problem was probably not appropriate for six-year-olds.