So Rama aced her first Grade 1 exam. It was Math: Graphing.
She scored 20/21.
This was particularly sweet for me as I thought last week that she was slow to understand the lessons. I was getting used to the idea that she might not just be the type that did well in school. And that was ok. Gulp.
I would help her with some homework and it was such a struggle. Especially the question that runs something like this: "If there are 8 kids who like purple and 3 kids who like red, how many more kids like purple than red?" She would always just add 8 and 3 and come up with 11. Anyhow. By the time the test came, she got it, I guess.
So what question tripped her? The test asked the student to make tick marks and then graph the numbers. The hypothetical information was about juices and how many kids liked apple juice, grape juice and orange juice. The information showed that Apple juice was most popular, with most kids picking this.
And then the question: If we could only buy 1 type of juice, which one would we buy?
The correct answer was Apple, the juice that majority of the kids picked.
Rama didn't get that she was supposed to pick the majority choice. She picked Grape, the lowest scorer, with only 2 people choosing grape.
And this is where my rant starts. Isn't that a subjective question? I am not sure that I agree to teaching kids to go with the popular choice. Where does independent choice come into the picture? What if Rama wanted to support the underdog? Or the minority? I guess what raises my hackles is the impulse to reward conformity - as early as Grade 1. I worry that this little lesson is the start of thwarting independent thought, ironically in a supposed progressive society.
I am seriously considering writing the school board.
Update, November 1 2008. I handed the letter yesterday, Friday, AND got to chat with her. She quickly skimmed through it and we had a good conversation. Basically, Mrs. K justified that the intent was to simply get students to interpret the graph. She agreed that the wording was difficult, especially for Rama whose first language is not English. She was quite nice about it, but seemed just a tad defensive and really not too keen on discussing the underpinnings of the question, which I understand. To be fair, Mrs. K doesn't write the test questions; they come from a book of worksheets from which she picks (I figured this much from the looks of the paper). What reassured me was that it was an isolated case, and that generally, the teachings lean towards openness and acceptance of differences. And maybe, if and when she reads through my letter more carefully, the real point will sink in.