Sunday, January 24, 2016

When Swiss school sucks

Today I'm angry. I'm angry with the Swiss school system. Because it is a good system but sometimes... Oh sometimes I just want to strangle this school system for being so.... grrrrr... plain out fastidious! Like last week when my youngest daughter came home from school with a math test being just one point away from a higher grade. The error was this:

"Steven has bought 2 bouquets of roses for his mom and they cost 6 CHF each. Tanya has bought 12 daisies and 10 tulips for her Mom. How many more flowers did Tanya buy than Steven?"

Do you know the answer? Well I certainly don't... So how would Emmy Bo know the answer? She is only 8 and of course she makes her best to guess an answer, and she fails.

I wrote the teacher asking: "What is the correct answer as the question obviously is lacking enough information to receive a correct answer, or did I miss something here? Maybe in Switzerland a bouquet of flowers ALWAYS contains 12 flowers as a general rule. Something that everyone should know... Or... Please, just fill me in. Because I don't feel that this is a correct question to have in a test. I'm sure Emmy Bo is not the only one who failed answering this question."

The teacher ignored my question for 4 days and after a reminder from me she finally responded:

"Well, that is a question without an answer and the correct answer should be
'I don't know.'"
Oh, how silly of me. Of course. Why didn't I get that? Of course tests should include questions where the answer is expected to be "I don't know.". I mean, we only study so hard to get it all right and to respond correctly to all questions in a test but of course we all should know that every now and then the school system sneaks in a "tricky one" which doesn't have an answer at all. Especially 8 year old kids should know this.

I'm sorry if I come out as being sarcastic but excuse me. Really??? Seriously???

Well, that trick question cost my daughter a point from a 5,5 instead of the 5 she got on her test. Luckily Emmy Bo is a strong girl and she won't be knocked down by this error, but someone else with maybe just a teeny weeny bit less self esteem could actually be really challenged by that kind of error. For another kid this might stir up some real anxiety for what questions will need an answer and what question will not in the future. There will always be a "trick question" hidden there somewhere... Scary...

I don't like it and I personally think it is bloody stupid to include trick questions in an 8-year old's math test. But that is my opinion and I'm an foreigner so maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

Today I wish I spoke French fluently and comfortably, including curse words to let some steaming anger out,  because if I did I would not have hesitated to go knock on that classroom door and question the teacher if this is truly within the regulations of a school plan. And I just wonder what she would answer. Maybe she would say "I don't know..."

Note: Thank you all for your comments and support on this topic. I have spoken to the teacher and it is a part of the curriculum so... Well, I guess I just have to suck it up and move on. I still find it strange though to say the least.


Kärlek
Annette


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53 comments :

  1. As a teacher, this makes me angry. If you want to test logic, give a clear question, like, what other information do I need, or, do I have enough information to answer this question? I teach this age (in the UK) and would never give a question like this on a test. I MIGHT put it up on the board in class to generate discussion... But to penalise a child for trying to answer it? So odd. And upsetting for your little one.

    (I'm a long-time reader of your blog, but this might be the first time I'm commenting! Hello!)

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    1. Hi Chaya
      Thank you for commenting and making me feel good about my reaction. You put exact words on what I felt. If you do serve a trick question, at least give teh kids a chance to see it through. Like maybe say something before doing the test to signal "Please pay attention, there might be a tricky question in there that shouldn't have an answer." But this is not the first time this happens. And it makes me upset because I just don't think it is fair. Thanks for backing me up. And lovely to "hear" your voice here.
      Xxx
      Annette

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  2. I so agree with you!! How can you ask a question without providing all of the information, especially to a child of that age. Crazy. It is good that you have done such a good job of being a great Mum that this will not affect your daughter long term, but as you say, not everyone is that lucky or able and that just makes it even worse. I hope that the teacher takes note in future! xx

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  3. I am a teacher and have an eight year old and that is making me fizz inside. Grrrr! How ridiculous. Jo x

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  4. Oh my gosh..when I read this math problem I thought hmmm wellll, but then as I kept reading I thought ok..Annette doesn't know either..hahaha..you're a good mom. I think the question should be deleted and all the kids should get a bump up in their score..xo susie

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  5. If a teacher includes a question like that, perhaps it should be included as a bonus question that gets a sticker or a candy for the right answer but doesn't affect the grade. Kind of ridiculous for a child in any grade to expect that the right answer will ever be "I don't know"

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  6. That is bloody stupid for any child, even an adult to answer. How in Heaven's name is she supposed to understand that? I bet the teacher left out information on that question and was not smart enough to admit to it.
    Meredith

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  7. Dear Annette,
    I think you're absolutely right, and I would react the same as you did. Please, never keep your mouth shut in such case ! Our kids deserve watchful moms, and some teachers need to remember they're dealing with KIDS...

    Nadine

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  8. B"££$% stupid! I'd have steam coming out of my ears!

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  9. That is really stupid. I don't think your French has to be so perfect for you to go in and wave your hands and shout, "Tu est stupide! Votre examinations sont ridiculment!" It's obvious I don't speak French, but you got that didn't you? And sometimes being the "foreigner gives you a free pass on etiquette, so you go girl:)
    Jenn

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  10. I honestly wonder if the teacher just made that answer up because she herself had no idea what the answer might be! Did the test instructions include the possibility that some questions might just be ... well, the only word I can thing of "pointless"? I am glad that you challenged the question but sorry that the outcome was not as it should have been!

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  11. I agree with Chaya and Jo...and I'm not a teacher but I am a Mother and Grandma and it just plain frustrates me to no end. I would think this would be so discouraging to a little one. 8 years old!! My goodness.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  12. Seriously? By the time I was 8 I had dealt with my parents divorce, my father's accident which left him a quadriplegic, and my mother's decision to remarry an alcoholic child molester. You are afraid that a confusing math question will scar someone for life? Wow. It used to be that it was expected for children to become tough to deal with life. I am truly afraid for the future. We have way too many helicopter parents raising kids who are totally ill-equipped with the harsh reality that life is not fair and does not always make sense. Get over it.

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    1. They are very different things, and I am sorry that no one was watching over you and protecting you. They should have been and I really and sincerely wish it had been different for you.

      A maths problem is not on the same scale when it comes to emotional and physical well being. However, this kind of thing is still a problem and can lead to problems educationally and affect children's learning which is important. Which is what schools are for. Parents are needed to be advocates for their children and should not apologise for it. I wish you had someone who was strong for you. A helicopter parent is someone who takes things to extremes. This is not what is happening here.

      Delete
    2. I respectfully disagree with you. This is an opportunity for a valuable life lesson...if the parent handles it correctly and if the teacher handled it correctly. Did the teacher review it with the class? Was there a unit on gathering the facts? Did the teacher have a valid reason for putting the question on the test that would only be known if one were actually in the classroom? Back in the day, parents sided with the teacher. It was called respect.

      My brother tells a great story of his daughter having an absolutely horrid third grade teacher. He used it as a valuable lesson for her. He didn't defend his daughter. He taught her to respect the authority of the teacher and how to deal with difficult people.

      This rant is so incredibly disrespectful to the teacher.

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    3. Thank you for your kind words. They are unnecessary as I have overcome those issues. Your words tell me that you missed my point. I learned from my experiences that a well equipped child is one whose parents did not try to change the world for their child but rather taught their child how to face whatever challenges life may throw at them.
      That is what makes this a helicopter parent situation. Criticize the big bad mean teacher for daring to put a cruel unjust unfair math question in the test. Teach the child that she is a victim. May I suggest instead teaching the child that a wrong answer is not something to be feared...that failure is the greatest teacher in the world.
      Perhaps I have a different perspective. I reacted to my own childhood by becoming a helicopter parent. I homeschooled my children. I did everything right and my own son still died from drugs at age 17.
      I focused on protecting him instead of empowering him. And he was totally ill-equipped to handle life.
      I was wrong.
      And the opportunity lies in the thousands of small opportunities like a math question that makes no sense.
      The job of a parent is to teach the child how to be an adult...how to be emotionally strong. That is so much more important than one question on a math test.

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  13. Forgive me if I find this crazy as well, however, I fail to see how "I don't know the answer can be called a correct answer" What are we trying to do to our children? I think you're right on to have a gripe about about this.
    Blessings Gail

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  14. Oh they wouldn't want me as a parent at that school! I've had many MANY encounters with teachers, principals - all the way up to the Superintendent! I ultimately pulled my kids out of school and homeschooled them!

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    Replies
    1. More of us should fight for our kids rights in school. To change a system takes patience, perseverance and courage. If no one shouts out nothing will change. We need more strong Mums like you in school. Thanks for visiting today.
      Xxx

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  15. My impression is that the teacher realised something was wrong with her question when you asked about it, but is too stubborn/childish/proud to own up to it. How ridiculous!

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  16. "Today I wish I spoke French fluently..." Oh, how good I know this. There is a little Problem that makes me angry (in school, in offices, somewhere else) and it become a big pain in my stomach, because I can't let it out, because I think the lack of fitting words would make the problem just bigger and I don't want to be impolite.
    And than I feel more than every day that I am a foreigner, also after six years here in Israel.

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    Replies
    1. You are not alone and we should make a fuss even though our words may not come out right. Stay strong. We'll get there. :)
      Xxx

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  17. Oh wow, I am Swiss and although I am "only" a Germanteacher for adults, I would never put such a tricky question into a test. I can't remember that our five children ever had such a question in a test!Very, very strange... and surely not a swiss rule!!! Or is it now???? Than I just would have to apologize....
    Hugs, Martina

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  18. You vent away lass. The teacher obviously made a mistake and instead of acknowledging this and apologising, took a few days to think of a way to get out of it and felt the need to humiliate a child. Not a very grown up way to behave. Sandra xx

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  19. even here in Belgium we don't have those (silly) kind of questions in a math-programm for 8 years old kids! I think the teacher just tried to get out with that answer, after four days of thinking, because she would have to recognize she forgot to write down the complete math-question ... bad attitude of a teacher ...

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  20. You go Girl..Warrior mums are the best..Teachers are funny creatures at times and some love the power it gives them..Sorry does seem to be the hardest word:)

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  21. Not appropriate for a test. I certainly wouldn't have included it in a test situation ( I did teach that age group for a long time) I'm inclined to agree that the teacher missed out some of the information.
    One year on April Fools day I put a similar question up for my class to puzzle over as I was doing registration etc. After they'd puzzled for a while 'I owned up' and we talked about it. They thought it was fun - in that situation!!!

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    1. Agreed. Thanks for joining the discussion.
      Xxx

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  22. I would be steaming mad as well. How ridiculous is that and how would an 8 year old be expected to cope with that. Sounds to me as if the teacher left some vital info out of the question and is now making excuses, xx

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  23. All answers should be correct then. Based on the fact that each child might consider that a typical bunch of flowers has X amount of flowers. If she is asking them to think outside the box - then each of the children who attempted an answer are correct. I think my kids started to get tricky questions when they were learning what they called 'Guess-timating' and averaging (still not sure if this falls into the category). But they need to have the concept explained to them before hand, otherwise it's just a half arsed question..

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    Replies
    1. You are right. I'm not giving up on this one. I will confront this teacher about this again. Thanks for popping in today.
      Xxx

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  24. I think it is not fair to blame Swiss school systems - if I compare with abroad - we are rather lucky here. Seems to be a teachers fault whos is not standing behind herself.
    My I ask if this happen in public or private school?

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    1. Well, I am not hundred percent sure this is a fault made by teh teacher or if this is considered ok in the Swiss schooling regulations. And this is what I would like to find out. ALl my kids go to public school and although I find school here very tough I'm quite happy with the outcome because at least my children know how to count, read and write when finishing school at age 15, which is not to be taken for granted in many other countries.
      Thanks for taking part in the discussion.
      Xxx

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  25. I tested that on my twelve yr-old...he got confused with the cost, but after a while (and some repetition of the question) he came up with a frown and..."how many flowers in a bouquet?"
    But an 8 yr-old? No.
    Aaargh...bite your cheeks my dear. I 8 days into the new school year and realise that ames S might induce a hatred in History, Geography and English in my son. Going to have to work bloody hard this side to counter her moods and gripes.

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  26. Oh my goodness. So many things schools and teachers do make me cross. Sometimes they haven't the sense they were born with. There is no harm in questions like this, but surely at an older age? Or when they know that they are a possibility - it helps children to process information and to realise they don't have all the information needed to solve a problem. In a practical sense, an architect might need to get some more numbers before she builds a house that doesn't fall down. However, not at this early learning phase and where children are eager to please and will have spent so much frustrating time on this question, all the while assuming there absolutely must be a proper answer (as otherwise, why would they have been given the question?!) If it was discussed first in the way you and others have said, then well enough. However, done like this is harmful and ignorant and actually unkind.

    Even now my daughter is grown I get so annoyed when I hear things like this. And yes you absolutely should make a fuss. Good on you!

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    1. I so agree with you. I mean, my Emmy Bo was that child, trying to figure out the answer as there naturally must be an answer. Not in a million years did she consider that the right answer would be "I don't know" as this is not a normal answer when doing an exam. I'll keep on making a fuss. Never give up fighting for our rights.
      Xxx

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  27. I agree totally with Chaya. This is nog the Swiss school system failing, but a teacher failing to see her own mistakes towards your daughter and to you. This teacher is not really listening to you and to your child. With her late and strange reaction she is showing no understanding of the development of childeren and no empathy.

    Hugs for you and your child, Margaret

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  28. You've every right to be mad, what a stupid question! and for an eight year old. I'm welsh living in France (just over the mountains from you) and have to say that often the french school system sucks too! When my eldest was about 7 his teacher asked him what he would do if the 'wolf' (they were reading the three little pigs) tried to blow his house down? he answered, 'nothing, as everyone knows wolves don't eat people' - it was apparently the wrong answer!
    And I don't think you should keep your mouth shut because you are a foreigner.

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    1. I can't help but laughing. How silly is that??? You know, sometimes you just wonder what the purpose of certain exercises are...
      Xxx
      PS you're on IG too, aren't you? I think I know you.:)

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  29. I live in Belgium, in the french speaking part, and I am sure I have had this kind of questions when I was a kid. To teach us not to be afraid to say "I don't now" instead of giving a wrong answer. Cuz saying "I don't know" is from far less stupid than giving a wrong answer, when it's obvious there is no answer.
    Perhaps it's a characteristic of the french speaking education?
    But indeed, it can come from a lack of information at the base of the test ;-)

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  30. I am new to reading your blog (your crochet projects captured my attention). I am a teacher in the USA. Regardless of your language barrier you should go see this teacher, but may I recommend going with kindness in your heart? I agree with many others that this teacher probably made a mistake with this question. At this point you don't know whether she created the test, or whether it is a test provided by the curriculum developer. Regardless, you should ask what standard is being tested by the questions on this test. In addition, you can ask when instruction on logic and reasoning have been covered in the class curriculum. When have practice items been given where the correct answer is "not enough information given." If it hasn't been covered in class it cannot be tested - doing that invalidates the test. Truly, most teachers don't want to make mistakes, but they do happen. You are completely within your rights to ask these questions and should not let a language barrier prevent you. Families and schools working together is what keeps education strong- and accountable.

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    1. As a teacher, I hope she goes with kindness in her heart, because at the end of the day, teachers are human. But it's important that the teacher remember this too; she is human, and it's ok to make mistakes, but we should own up to our mistakes. I get a kick out of pointing out my mistakes to my students, because it teaches them that it's ok.

      And if it's a curriculum requirement, the teacher should be able to explain this to the parent, or at least show understanding that the curriculum sometimes has flaws, and in this case, your child having no idea that "I don't know" is supposed to be an answer, is a flaw either on the teacher or the curriculum's part. Not your daughter.

      Delete
  31. That is ridiculous. I have never heard of anything like this ever happening anywhere in the world and I, like you, grew up in one part of the world and I am raising my kids on the opposite side. To have a math question where answer is “I do not know” is ridiculous for any grade.
    It is good that you sent a note to teacher and perhaps you should leave it at that, but at the same time I feel like I would go to the principal to see what he/she has to say about it.

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  32. I'm a former teacher. This teacher should have examined the problems on the test beforehand and afterwards as I'm sure your daughter was not the only one who missed this question. Look back on her homework; has she had questions like this before? A test if it comes from the curriculum should cover what is covered in class. Don't be afraid to talk to this teacher. Do you have a friend who speaks French to help translate for you? Or when you schedule your appointment with the teacher, tell her how you speak limited French and will need help with your meeting.

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  33. School is a place to learn, a place where the teacher or system should make the child feel confident and strong. If you ask such stupid questions to a child and give 'the bad note' it's like a punishment, like making the child feel stupid. That's my opinion. It's a good thing your child is strong, but for another child who is more fragile, this can be devastating.

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  34. Hello Annette, hope you are doing well. I think this teacher hadn't read the question properly and when you questioned her she didn't want to admit that she had made a mistake... Last year, my 8 year old daughter got some maths questions for homework that turned out to be algebra questions for a 16 year old. The answer to one of the problems was x+y+z=78 And you knew the value of x. When I asked the teacher she realised that she had made a mistake and had not read or understood the question to the exercise. It was ridiculous! loved your pics of Mustique, by the way.....
    Pati x

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  35. Never keep your mouth shut when it comes to your child! You and other parents should demand a re-test. Here in America we are having similar problems with Math. Best wishes.

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  36. How very strange - at least in the UK at that age the idea is that there is an answer you are working towards (and maths always has a right answer)

    Well done you for having her back

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  37. This is outrageous. I looked at it and thought as you, not enough info. I never heard of a trick question as this especially for an 8 year old. You are a good mom.

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Thank you so much for visiting my world. I love reading your comments and I do my utterly best to respond to questions and sweet messages. Thank you again for popping by.

Kärlek
Annette

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