There is an old adage that states “not everything is black and white.” This proverb means that there are varying degrees of right and wrong, just and unjust. Generally this is a term that is used to describe sociological conditions but it also holds weight in the topic of education. Take for example the below link which shows test answers that children of various ages filled out. These test answers are considered “wrong” but some of them are actually very clever!
Look at number 2 where the child did what the instructions said in an abstract way.
Number 5 showed a lot of compassion and an excellent moral center.
Number 6 is pure genius and completely valid.
Number 7 is correct and showed a flaw in the test question.
Number 10 is, in its own way, right.
Number 11 is a totally valid reason.
Number 19 is overly accurate but, if the content is suitable, should be marked right.
Number 29 is dead on (pardon the pun) and should have been marked right.
Number 37 is right (I’m not sure why it is even here).
Granted, some other questions were clearly “answered” by exasperated students who did not know the actual solutions and simply handled the situation with humor (such as the hilarious responses to numbers 24 and 25) while others were obviously done to pester and annoy the teacher (such as number 31…which could actually be a valid answer).
When reviewing these answers it should be considered that many of the students answered the questions abstractedly but NOT wrongly. Granted, many of them were probably marked wrong by teachers and traditional school systems…but is that really fair? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to give the students credit for looking at things outside the box and answering as earnestly as possible?
It is arguable that by marking some of those answers wrong the children who gave them were denied praise for their “outside the box” thinking—a form of thinking that is highly valued by most companies. Hence, there is discord between the schools and society about what is “right” for kids to know and how people should think about problems posed to them.
There are different ways of looking at the same situation and a more abstract way of teaching (and considering untraditional answers) might very well prove to be a far more worthy grading template in the future. As world becomes more connected abstract thinking, and the willingness to accept differing points of view, is going to be paramount to dealing with other people from other places.