Is this wrong?

I thought that I’d share something that I’ve recently read on Facebook – This was an answer to a Primary 1 student’s English composition : Singapore Primary 1 student english composition answer

At first glance, I thought that the student didn’t do anything wrong. And then I went through the comments, many of them very harsh – saying about how the teacher needs to go back and study English, and how she should be fired.

But then I managed to read the question : Singapore Primary 1 student english composition answer

“If you are celebrating a family member’s birthday, how do you plan to celebrate it?”

Granted that the use of the conditional “if” is a bit awkward,  I realised that the teacher wasn’t in the wrong at all. For every question, you’d have to answer accordingly.

When you are asked, “If you ARE to plan her birthday, how DO you plan to do it?” And so you have to answer in the matching tense, that is, “If I AM to plan he birthday, I WILL …”

And when you are asked, “If you WERE to plan her birthday, how WOULD you plan to do it?” then you could answer it with, “If I WERE to plan her birthday, I WOULD …”.

The trouble with the conditional IF when used in past tense, is for situations that is hypothetical, or something impossible for you to do, like, “If I were able to fly”, “If I was a man”, “If I was rich”.

But planning a birthday party is something do-able. Which is why I understand why the question was phrased that way.

This reminds me of another question that I read some while back. I can’t find the exact one, but it’s quite similar to this one : Singapore Primary 3 student science question

The student’s answer was along the lines of : “Both of them can walk”.

When the answer was posted online, there were many comments of how, “This is killing children’s creativity” and whatnots. But this is a science question, and when you see the words, study or observe the picture, you’ll need to answer on what is based on what you see. Which is :

  • They both have four feet (or)
  • They both have two ears (or)
  • They both have a tail

And so on and so forth.

I wouldn’t say that I’m perfect academically, but it’s logical that if someone asks for “A”, one should answer back in “A”. It’s nothing to do with stifling a child’s imagination or creativity –  It’s just not answering the question.

But on the other hand, we have to be careful not to lead children only  use rote memorizations without understanding its meaning like in the video below :

The clip comes from the movie, “Three Idiots” and if you haven’t watched it yet, watch it! It’s the funniest movie that I’ve watched in a while 🙂

2 Replies to “Is this wrong?”

  1. This was really interesting! I definitely assumed that the teacher was in the wrong as well as I was reading the student’s seemingly-correct response. I always find English grammar and all the rules behind it absolutely fascinating.

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