Here's a weird/funny/fantastic math problem... But it also kind of highlights the word problems we often see in math books - like some have noted, it's only in math classes that trains travel towards each other on the same track, or someone buys 61 watermelons for himself , or people paint houses at identical speeds all day long , etc. All kinds of unrealistic situations. But, being a curriculum author myself, I know it's hard to make problems that would always perfectly relate to real life. In real life things (such as speed) vary a lot and are not constant, and such situations can be totally beyond students' ability to handle mathematically. So we first learn to handle the simple, though unrealistic, situations, such as everything traveling at a constant speed, and then from that, we can advance to calculus and learn the math for the real situation where the speed is changing all the time. That said, of course it's good to relate math to real life whe