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Thousands of years ago, Confucius introduced the concept of jen. According to him, a person of jen “brings the good things of others to completion and does not bring the bad things of others to completion.” In other words, jen represents our ability to make the world a better place…but also a worse one.

In this lesson students explore the concept of the jen ratio — the ratio of positive to negative observations in our daily lives — and use it to discuss how the media influences the way we experience the world. From violent video games to inspiring hip-hop lyrics, how does jen shape our lives?

Students will

  • Describe the jen ratio as the ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions
  • Interpret jen as a ratio (positive:negative) or a fraction (positive / negative)
  • Explain why the lowest possible jen ratio is zero, while the highest possible jen ratio is undefined or infinite
  • Given a piece of media (e.g. news headlines, TV shows, etc.) calculate the jen ratio
  • Reason about ratio addition (specifically the difference between part:part and part:whole relationships)

Before you begin

Students should have a basic understanding of how to represent ratios in different forms (odds notation, fractions, and words). In particular, students should understand the fundamental difference between ratios and fractions.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices

Additional Materials

  • Newspapers