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I love teaching math. I get excited about turning 11-year-old mathphobics into students who “Feel the math love” – one of our classroom mantras.

The self-contained classroom allows me to mix math and storytelling. You see, there’s a magical land that only a few teachers know about. And, I must politely ask that this story not be told to teachers in other grades because they may think Mrs. Abercrombie has run a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

But the land does exist. It’s called [lean in for the whisper] Fractionland.

Fractionland has its share of cultural anomalies. For instance, residents of Fractionland believe that the prettiest and most handsome fractions are the ones with the smallest digits in their numerators and denominators. Every year they have a beauty contest. 1/2 always wins.

Although other fractions cannot be as beautiful as 1/2, Fractionland mothers always insist that their fraction family members leave the house looking their best. You see, when fractions sleep fitfully, they toss and they turn and they flip and they snore. And when they wake up, they look nothing like themselves.

Just the other day, 1/3 woke up from a fitful night’s sleep and walked into the kitchen only to hear her mother gasp. 

“What’s wrong?” asked 1/3.

The family was too horrified to explain. Instead, mom reached into her purse, pulled out a mirror, and held it up to her daughter. The beautiful 1/3 now looked like 9/27 – a hairy, awful beast she had only heard of by reading Fractionland’s secret stash of banned books.

1/3’s face turned green. “Whatever shall we do?” she asked (business essays and articles).

“Well, you can’t leave the house looking like that,” her mom said, stating the obvious.

As any good Fractionland mother would do, she plopped 9/27 down in a chair and took out the scissors.

Dad put down his newspaper. “Looks like she needs about three snips off the top and three off the bottom,” he said.

“Hmmm…,” mother contemplated. “That would work,” she said as she backed away from her daughter to get a better look. “But I reckon the problem is more serious. I’m thinking about taking nine off the top and nine off the bottom.” As mom cut, 1/3 contemplated the unfairness of life – the older she got, the worse she looked in the morning.

Mother finished her clipping, grinned with satisfaction, and held the mirror up to her daughter. 1/3 smiled. She twirled. She sang, “I feel pre-tty… oh so pre-tty.”

Mother escorted her daughter to the door and kissed her on the cheek. As they exchanged fraction family smooches, 1/3’s younger brother came barreling down the stairs.

“NOT so fast,” mother said, grabbing her son’s arm. You are not leaving the house looking like 15/20.”

Mother marched her son to the kitchen and made him sit until he looked like his true self.

What did 15/20 need to look like before he left the house? What is the moral of this story?