Critical Thinking??

By the time I got home, the damage had already been done.

AJ had brought home an already-completed school assignment with a poor grade. He had shared with Kristy that he had been the first to complete the paper, handing it in to the teacher before any of his classmates. She made it very clear to him that effort is to be targeted at accuracy, not speed. AJ seemed to have gotten the message loud and clear by the time I arrived home.

I reviewed his assignment, designed to assess his reading and comprehension skills. The paper (and the 1st 2 questions that he answered incorrectly – ‘correct’ answers in bold/italics) are included here:

Sunny opened her lunch box.
“What do you have?” asked Angel.
“I have a cheese sandwich,” Sunny answered.
“I have rice,” Angel said.
“We do, too,” said Kim and Paul.
They all had rice. Kim’s rice was brown. Angel had rice and beans. Paul’s rice was yellow and smelled great.
That evening, Sunny set the table for dinner. Then she went into the kitchen. Her grandmother was cooking. Sunny wrinkled her nose.
“What are you making?” Sunny asked
“I am making fried rice,” Grandma said.
“What is fried rice?” Sunny asked.
“It is a rice dish from China, “she said. “It was my favorite food when I was your age. I ate it every day.”
“Can I taste it now?” Sunny asked.
“It is not ready yet. You must be patient and wait,” said Grandma.
Sunny settled down. “Can I watch?” she asked.
“Of course,” Grandma said. She showed Sunny everything that went into the rice dish. Sunny practice stirring the rice.
The next day, Sunny had fried rice for lunch.
“What is that?” asked him. “It is called fried rice,” said Sunny.
“Now we all have rice for lunch!” said Kim.

(1) What will Sunny most likely tell Grandma after school?
A) She never wants rice again.
B) She does not like fried rice.
C) She liked having rice for lunch.
D) Her friends made fun of her rice.

(2) The next time grandma makes rice, Sunny most likely will –
A) make a different meal for herself
B) help Grandma make the rice
C) stay out of the kitchen
D) tell Grandma to make something else

He is being graded (according to the paper) on his ability to ‘make and confirm predictions’. Perhaps…or maybe he is being taught to make dangerous assumptions about people without valid data based on intuition, the impact of peer-pressure and group think. Perhaps – as Kristy argues – this was a wonderful opportunity to learn the importance of taking one’s time…or maybe there isn’t a lesson to be learned at all.

Either way, I feel bad that I wasn’t home earlier this afternoon.


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