Originally Posted by spedteacher30
While it is important that people always remember that the obvious might not be the answer, if any of us countered our boss with the type of bantering you are describing, we wouldn't last long.
In my job, thinking like that is prized and rewarded and my boss talks to me seeking creative and alternative answers, new ways of seeing things, and interesting interpretations of existing norms on a daily basis. I'm not in an exotic field, either - I'm an attorney.
They spend 3 years trying to "teach" you to see multiple perspectives, every angle and every possible answer (and question), and how to resolve ambiguity in a multitude of different ways, in law school. Kind of irritating so many children have it drilled out of them in traditional schooling. It comes naturally to me but it seems awfully silly one goes to law school primarily to learn to "think like a lawyer" when many people start with a lot of those innate abilities and have them suppressed and discouraged by a "there is only one right answer" system. I agree that sometimes there really is only one right answer, and there's nothing wrong with that when it is actually the case (and to a reasonable degree, not an extreme degree where you question everything constantly). But by the same token, it is not reasonable to reject alternative answers to ambiguous questions just because the answer book says there is one correct answer.
I was always getting "in trouble" in school for completing an assignment within the boundaries specifically and clearly laid out, yet still in a creative and unexpected way. Since it wasn't what the teacher "meant" - even though my response in no way violated the instructions or guidelines - I had a lot of work that was alternately praised and rejected (some teachers were happy to get something different; others freaked out a bit at anything unexpected).
Once I was asked to present and defend, with a minimum of X words, one of four positions that could have been taken by the U.S. government/then-U.S. president with respect to the "Hawaii" problem (before Hawaii was a state). I did it as an interview between a hard-hitting reporter and the President, with the President setting forth the Administration's position (the position I was assigned) and the justification therefor. It was returned to me as "incomplete" and I was told to re-do the assignment as straight-up essay, which of course I did not do. I thought it was ridiculous and I had a high A in the class anyway, so I didn't bother.
On the other end of the spectrum, in a different social studies class we were told to write X words describing the best qualities of some famous explorer, with some kids getting assigned different explorers. I did mine in the form of a little fictional set-up and a toastmaster congratulating and listing the achievements of the explorer at a celebratory return state dinner. That one got read to the class (which was just as bad as being told to re-do the thing, since e/o could tell I had written it).
I think recognizing the ambiguities and uncertainties in a question like that should be acknowledged and if not rewarded, at least explored, especially at that age. And I would expect that if the child were older, and the question was on a test, that a child explaining how 0-5 ducks could be wet should be given full credit, because there's no reason to think (except for having deduced the teacher's most likely desired response - a skill I was/am good at but don't find particularly valuable) that 3 ducks are wet.
I feel certain that the best teachers I had would have handled it that way, with the worst insisting 3 is the only possible correct answer.