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O.K this has been bothering me for the last couple of years. Why don't teachers give any leeway to the thinking of kids? Don't they realize that some kids think out of the box? My example is: My 8 yr old son took a math test this week, and failed one question. The question? How many sides does a circle have? His answer: one. When I asked why he though a circle had one side, he stated because you only use one line to draw it. When I stated that a circle had no sided, he stated that if it didn't then it would not exist because there would not be a line. Is he right? Can you draw a circle with no sides? This is one of many he has come up with. Can you fight a teacher with this stuff? I must say I find humor in it, but some times this way of thinking just does not fit in to the everyday school format. Any comments?
 

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Hmmmm, that's a hard one.<br><br>
On one hand I appreciate that your child thought this through and was able to articulate his answer. On the other hand, presumably the correct information (the mathematical definition of a line, the definition of a side) was taught in class before the test was given.<br><br>
I would let it go -- frankly the tests you take at 8 don't mean anything in the grand scheme of life. Making a big deal about it and asking for it to be changed gives it more value than it's worth, and gives your child the idea that making a mistake on a test is not OK.
 

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If your son is interested in this question, google "How many sides does a circle have?"<br><br>
Here's an interesting discussion of the question:<br><br><a href="http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/54816.html" target="_blank">http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/54816.html</a><br><br>
You can use this as a jumping off point to talk about polygons and the teachers definition of a side, mathematicians definition of a side, your ds' definition of a side, your definition....<br><br>
It's actually a really interesting question!! With no straightforward answer.
 

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Now you've got me singing that Travis song:<br>
"There is no wrong, there is no right<br>
The circle only has one side"<br><br>
I think it's great your DS thinks about things rather than just trying to give the "right" answer. I'd probably tell him that I think he has a good point and who cares about the test question anyway. Sometimes there is more than one answer & there are always different ways of seeing things and school tests don't seem to tolerate that. I'd rather him think for himself and not worry if he gets every question right. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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At parent-conference time you can sound the teacher out to see if s/he appreciates that kind of thinking, but not all teachers will. What is most important is not how he did on the test, but your discussion with him. He wasn't dismissed with "no, a circle has no sides, why didn't you remember?" but treated respectfully (by you) as having made an interesting point. It's ok for a free-thinking child to learn that there *is* a definition of a line/side/circle/etc that he's expected to answer "correctly" even as mathematical theory continues to develop. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
The song now in *my* head is David Bowie's "Kooks:"<br><br>
And if the homework<br>
Brings you down<br>
Then we'll throw it on the fire<br>
And take the car downtown
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Why don't teachers give any leeway to the thinking of kids? Don't they realize that some kids think out of the box?</div>
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Please, <i>please</i>, <b>please</b>, try to avoid painting all teachers with such broad strokes of your brush. Just like construction contractors, sanitation workers, lawyers, doctors, and stay at home moms, every teacher is different and has a different personality.<br><br>
Now the system itself... that leaves little room for discussion and "alternate answers." But our current educational system is the product of so many different factors, teachers being only one of them. Parents, politicians, and economics (and about a gazillion other factors) bear just as much responsibility.
 
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