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Two Plus Three Equals Five: a True Story

A Stubborn Little Boy Thinks He is Right

2+3=5. A True Story

When I was six years old and in primary school we did little cards of simple maths problems.  One sum I had to solve was 2+3.  I thought the answer was 5 so I wrote in my terrible handwriting: 2+3=5.

This was marked wrong so I had to do it again.  I carefully considered the question and decided that my answer was right.  Perhaps the teacher had not been able to read my writing, so I very carefully wrote 2+3=5.  Again it was marked wrong.  I was not allowed to go onto further problems until I got this one right.  So I thought about what other answer to the problem was possible but I could not think of any other answer.  Again I wrote 2+3=5.  This went on for a while.  I was only six but I must have been stubborn because each time it was marked wrong I wrote 2+3=5.

Eventually I took the coward's way out.  I could not solve the problem if the answer was anything other than 5 so I simply ignored the fact that I had got the answer wrong again and went onto other maths problems.  This was against the rules, but the teacher did not catch me and I was able to progress to apparently harder addition problems which I did solve correctly.  Later I graduated to subtraction.

Now I am older (57) and have studied more maths at school and university, and have done jobs where accuracy
of maths is important, I still think 2+3=5.  I remember the teacher well.  She was a nice young lady as well as a good teacher; I hope she is still alive and well.  I remember her name but will not write it here.  I often wonder what the correct answer to 2+3 is.
Steve Challis
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