Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dumb Workbook Problem #2

From a logic workbook for grades 3-4 (ages 8-10).

Read the list and find the common characteristic of al the things each person likes.

John likes bowling but not baseball.
John likes math but not recess.
John likes cleaning but not weeding.
John likes coffee tables but not picnic tables.

John likes ________.


My eight year old could not figure this out. I could not figure this out.

Can you?

Please leave a comment with your answer or if you are stumped.

I will put the answer in the comments in a day or two.

My Issue with This Question

I think that part of my problem with some workbook problems is that they oversimplify facts. Only by oversimplifying one can come to a right answer. However if a person (like me) thinks with a bigger picture view, it can be hard to get inside the head of the workbook question writer to see their smaller view or their more narrow perception of the stated facts. I will explain when I reveal the answer, why the flawed answer the author came up with is not an accurate answer. A problem for students is that they can’t always get inside the head of the writer of the question either, so they may guess and get the question marked wrong or are unable to come up with any answer, therefore getting it marked wrong for being left blank. Children who ponder at questions like this too long can be labeled ‘slow’ or perhaps as ‘daydreamers’ or worse, may be suspected of having ADD. If enough questions are marked wrong, the child’s grade is lowered and people get a wrong idea of the level of intelligence or abilities of the student. Guessing and getting a wrong answer or leaving a dumb workbook question wrong is not necessarily an indication of the student’s grasp of the overall topic (in this case, logical thinking skills).

I find this workbook question dumb, not the entire book, just to be clear. I do like this workbook in general; it forces me to teach each of the logic categories, so I feel like I’m touching upon the basic principles.

For years I mostly avoided all workbooks out of hating them for the very reasons I stated here. However now I am using some a bit here and there. I am making sure to keep a close eye on the assignment and my child’s grasp of the subject matter. I discuss the tricky, misleading or stupid workbook questions with my kids and we talk about why they are troublesome.



From: Logic Countdown by Bonnie Risby, grades 3-4, lesson 5 category: relationships.

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6 comments:

carrielkg said...

I think John likes to be indoors. I also don't think this is a very well written question.

villalena said...

just ended up at your blog while looking up the price of cream cheese! thanks for the brain teaser!

john likes things that are inside.

Risa said...

I agree--he likes things inside not outside, which is of course ridiculous as I end up cleaning things outside (gutters, sweeping sidewalks). At first I thought it had something to do with double letters, but then he should like picnic tables, not coffee tables.

When I used to teach, my favourite stupid math question from a workbook was "Peter ate 4/5ths of the pile of Halloween candy, and his sister Sue ate 8/10ths. Who ate more candy?" Only one child out of 30 (grade 5/6 class) caught on that the question made no sense because between them they would have eaten more than the 1 pile. (4/5 = 8/10 = 1 3/5ths) And even worse, none of the other teachers I showed this to saw the problem, they all just went, "4/5 = 8/10, so no one ate more." Argh!

Daughter of St. Catherine said...

John likes to be indoors. It took me a couple minutes to get, but I didn't necessarily think it was bad- just like a riddle.

christinemm said...

Yes everyone is right, the answer is John likes indoor things.

I was stumped as just a couple of days before I spent the afternoon outside cleaning things. We also are doing garden prep and are designing fencing which uses math. So I didn't like the question as two things we did do outdoors just the prior weekend.

Well I am glad you all figured it out!

Crimson Wife said...

I think the 3rd one should be "scrubbing toilets" or some sort of obviously indoors housework. Because washing the exterior of windows or sweeping one's patio counts as "cleaning" in my book but they take place outdoors.