A 10-year-old Utah fourth-grader is making waves in the world of curriculum after she refused to answer a question that prompted her to compare the body weights of three girls. Yeah, you read that right, a fourth-grader was asked to judge other girls by their weight, pretty gross. Not quite sure what to do, she asked her mom for help.
Together, Naomi Pacheco and her daughter Rhythm decided that the question was offensive and that not only would it not get answered but it would get called out.
The question on Rhythm’s homework assignment read, “The table to the right shows the weight of three Grade 4 students. How much heavier is Isabel than the lightest student?” Then in the table, it shows three girls’ names along with their body weights.
Pacheco told TODAY Style, “Rhythm circled the question on the math worksheet and wrote ‘WHAT!’ She drew an arrow that pointed to the question and wrote, ‘Sorry I won’t write this, it’s rude.'”
But the story gets better.
Rhythm then wrote her teacher a note explaining why her homework was incomplete. She told TODAY Style, “I wrote a note to my teacher because if it was on my homework then it could be on other people’s homework too and I didn’t think it should be on there,” she said. “I was very nervous I would get in trouble for not writing out the question, but I still solved the problem. My teacher spoke to me about it and made me feel like she was on my side.”
Not only did Rhythm get a kind response back from her teacher but they also got a response from Eureka Math, the curriculum program responsible for creating the problematic homework assignment question. When asked about the question, the company told TODAY that they take user feedback seriously and that moving forward that question will no longer appear in assignments.
Sometimes it takes the sharp eyes of a kid to spot problems that need fixing. And while it may not seem like a huge deal to some people that a math question asks a student to compare something like weight, it becomes a big deal when the weight being compared are young girls.
When we live in a culture that prizes specific body types and young girls are routinely left feeling insecure and shamed for their body shapes then a question like this moves beyond problematic and into the realm of straight-up offensive. Girls in fourth grade are old enough to begin comparing themselves to the those around them so if they are going to see subtle signs of body affirmations they should be positive and they should be inclusive.
Great job, Rhythm for speaking up and helping to correct a problem that shouldn’t have been there, to begin with.