What is II+II? Roman numerals replace numbers


Photo by Leah Kreisler

WCHS students begin adjusting to solving mathematical problems with Roman numerals as the school implements RNT.

By Leah Kreisler, Is it pronouced Leah or Leah

Clocks have them, the Olympics have them, even the Super Bowl has them. Understanding Roman numerals is an important part of modern-day life and yet many people don’t know how to read them. The WCHS math department has a solution to this frightful problem: teach math using Roman numerals. Forget about two plus two – now, students will be learning II plus II and IV times VIII instead of four times eight.

“Roman numeral illiteracy (RNI) is one of the most prevalent issues of our time,” WCHS math department director of Common Sense, Jacob Clopper, said. “The department’s new teaching style, known as Roman Numeral Theory (RNT), will ensure that each and every student is not only proficient at math, but also in Roman numerals.”

The idea of changing the math department’s number style all started during the 2023 Super Bowl, otherwise known as Super Bowl LVII. Clopper, a football fanatic, attended a Super Bowl party to enjoy the game with friends. However, unbeknownst to him, the letters in the title of the most important game of the year were not in fact just letters, they were Roman numerals signifying which number Super Bowl it was.

“I walked around all day telling people that I couldn’t wait to watch Super Bowl LVII,” Clopper said. “It wasn’t until later when a friend looked it up online that I discovered that LVII was the number 57. As a math administrator, I felt particularly embarrassed, and the very next day, I proposed RNT so that no student will undergo the humiliation that I faced that day.”

Opponents of RNT argue that higher-level math will be virtually impossible using Roman numerals as it is an extremely complex and nonsensical system. Case in point: zero does not exist. For this reason, the Romans did not produce any notable mathematicians – unlike their rivals the Greeks. Clopper, however, argues that learning Roman numerals will in fact simplify mathematics and will provide more benefits for students than learning higher-level math ever would.

“Every day, students will have to read Roman Numerals like when they visit Rome or read clocks, but how often do they really need to calculate the area of a triangle?” Clopper said. “RNT will challenge students in ways that will benefit them their whole lives… unlike math.”

The school believes that this initiative will expand students’ Roman literacy and will propose that this become the county-wide method of teaching math by the end of this school year. WCHS administrators believe that this initiative not only benefits students but will simplify the math curriculum and reduce the county’s spending on unnecessary higher-level math programs.

“Imagine how much money will be saved by reducing the math curriculum to what can be taught in Roman numerals,” Assistant to the WCHS Math Manager Eldrige Cunningham III said. “This money could then be used to fund so many things like toga uniforms and Roman cuisine.”

The need for Roman numeral literacy goes beyond what even the school system can facilitate. Those in favor of RNT envision that all institutions of higher learning should adopt a similar system.

“I believe that the next big step in combating RNI is convincing libraries to replace the Dewey Decimal System with Roman numerals,” Cunningham III said. “From there, who knows, maybe eventually we’ll live in a world where all numerical values are represented in I, V, X, L, C, D, and M.”