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In Other News: Cheryl’s birthday

A look at a current news item through the lens of different Gale electronic resources.

By Michelle Eickmeyer

Oh, word problems… this is not your week! This week the world bemoaned a question, first posted to Facebook (then making it away through Buzzfeed to the BBC, and beyond.) The certainty of posters with their “easy” (and, of course, incorrect) responses only helped to fuel the fire. For those who missed it, here is the original question (with some spelling and grammatical editing… that’s an entirely different post!).

Albert and Bernard just became friends with Cheryl, and they want to know when her birthday is. Cheryl give them a list of 10 possible dates:

May 15     May 16        May 19

June 17     June 18

July 14      July 16

August 14  August 15  August 17

Cheryl then tells Albert and Bernard separately the month and the day of her birthday, respectively.

Albert: I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too.

Bernard: At first, I didn’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know now.

Albert: Then I also know when Cheryl’s birthday is.

So when is Cheryl’s birthday?


Here’s a look through four online resources from Gale.

Gale Artemis: Literary Sources

Ah, flirting. The subtle art of having something great to say without looking like a complete fool, to achieve a goal. Love, lust, free drinks, a ride home, a way out of a speeding ticket, attention to hurt the feelings of someone else… the list goes on. And the history of flirting is long captured in literary works. From classics including Lolita or Romeo and Juliet, to contemporary reviews of poetry, stage work, or – wait for it – octopuses, you’ll find a full range here.

Gender Studies Collection

The solution to this problem, like all great mysteries of the universe, requires some over-thinking and a bit of taking things for granted. It also shows that 1. Cheryl likes to play games and 2. neither guy is willing to just come out and say what he knows. This exchange, clearly, took place in a bar. The answer is included in both of the posts above. (The leap to the 2nd part of the solution is still not completely clear to me, so if anyone has a more definitive explanation of that, I’d love to hear it.) If this exchange is full of sexual tension, as the BBC commentator purports, what does the conversation say about them? Women are sneaky and men are competitive? The woman is coy and the men are too stubborn to ask for help? Explore these gender stereotypes, and more, in this continually updated periodical collection.

Global Issues in Context

The question in question was originally meant for a middle-school math competition. When the story first broke online, much of the concern was based on misinformation. Somehow, people thought this was part of a test for elementary school children. Those poor kids in Singapore! But really. This was not a required question; it was part of a competition. Like for fun. Really. Get a global perspective on competition, as a whole, in this great resource.

Discovering Collection

Unlike the competition mentioned above, or the idea that the question was for elementary school children, teaching requires resources. I’m not entirely sure how you ‘teach’ logic, as that’s the crux of the Cheryl’s birthday conundrum, but let’s forget that for a minute. Every day a teacher faces the objection of ‘never going to use this in my real life’ and every day they must have the proper data to combat that argument. If your university has a teaching program, those students will need to learn how to answer those questions — and prepare materials especially for national curriculum standards. Discovering Collection offers a wide range of materials, including primary sources and multimedia files, designed to provide just what those teachers, and students, need.


photoAbout the Author

Michelle is an “anytime!” traveler and language enthusiast. She has degrees in talking from Central Michigan and Michigan State University. She is currently becoming a runner and used to play golf in high school.



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