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 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 30
The wrong answerPage 2 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
he instructor did not ask "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer AND A ROPE".

He didn't have to. "With the aid of a barometer" means exactly what it says, and not to the exclusion of the the employment of anything else. If it had been worded as: "Using ONLY a barometer, show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building." you might have a case. Since the question did not explicitly exclude other aids, and in fact, by virtue of the word "aid", implied that one or more other aids might be required, the students use of the additional aid of a rope was not forbidden and could be argued as even being encouraged by the nature of the question as asked.

Borg has done an excellent job of illustrating why the student's answer was unacceptable.

I haven't read Borg's reasoning, so I can't comment on that. I'm only commenting on your post and suggesting (kindly and humbly) that perhaps you might be mistaken?
 Rainsands
Joined: 1/9/2007
Msg: 31
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/20/2010 6:51:14 PM
Honestly Dukky, having been an educator who taught classes in logic, fallacies, debate and negotiation, I would not have given any marks at all for that student's answer.

The only reason that I have not posted previously to my post #54 is that I felt Borg said it all and I concurred with his explanations. In my opinion, it was so obvious that the student's answer should be marked as incorrect that I could not add anything to Borg's posts.

The only reason that I pointed out that the question did not say "with the aid of a barometer and a rope" is that other posters have suggested that the question was not sufficiently specific re wording and that full marks should have been given. On the other hand, in your opinion, there is nothing inherently troublesome about the wording and I am assuming that you felt that the student possibly deserved full marks. I find it interesting that the posters who feel that the student was shortchanged are on both sides of the fence so far as the wording of the question goes.
 Rainsands
Joined: 1/9/2007
Msg: 32
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/21/2010 1:33:25 AM

The original question said nothing more about the building but that it's a building and has a height.


Um, the original question was SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER.

Mangler, you have your opinion and I have mine. I stand by my posts.

It is regrettable that you did not read this thread in its entirety including all of Borg's posts. I would suggest that perhaps he felt he had to break it down step by step because some posters still appeared to misunderstand his explanations hence the employment of what you deem "wordiness".

In my opinion, Borg broke it down as well as it COULD be broken down and I happen to agree with him. By this point, you either "get" it or you don't. JMHO Goodnight.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 33
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/22/2010 10:10:58 PM
Rainsands, your accord is treasured.
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Some specific answers…


Msg 59

It is regrettable that you did not read this thread in its entirety including all of Borg's posts. I would suggest that perhaps he felt he had to break it down step by step because some posters still appeared to misunderstand his explanations hence the employment of what you deem "wordiness".
It is regrettable indeed. However, we appreciate that you concur with our observations. Your vote of confidence is a particularly valued accolade.

Our posts were constructed to illustrate the logical dynamics of the dilemma. As an expected consequence, they also illustrate the nature of those who erroneously (nay, speciously) believe the fictional student was worthy. As usual we leave it to readers to determine the source of faulty logic, coy deflection, mockery, irrelevant ad hominem, false assertions and generally poor argument.

Lol. Some will likely quip it is from The Collective. Everyone is welcome to their opinion. (For viewers who have naught interest in lots of reading, The B0rg always provides a handy summary on all those “wordy” posts ROFL.)


Msg 59

In my opinion, Borg broke it down as well as it COULD be broken down and I happen to agree with him. By this point, you either "get" it or you don't. JMHO Goodnight.
Yes, and may we add the additional option of “refuses to”.

The Collective doesn’t need to explain the nature of denial… we only need allow it to reveal itself.
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Rainsands, your accord is treasured.

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
(Lol… “Steal” your own tagline)
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 34
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/23/2010 3:47:02 PM
RE Msg: 54 by Rainsands:
Scorpio, the instructor did not ask "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer AND A ROPE".
OK. Then you agree that he cannot use anything else? Fair enough.

The calculation of height from atmospheric pressure is:

h = Tb / Lb * [(P0 / P) ^ (R*.Lb / g0.M) - 1 ]

Or for a more approximate but simpler answer:

h = ln (P0 / P) * (R*.Tb) / (g0.M)

Please demonstrate how any Physics student can calculate either of those without the aid of a calculator or log tables or anything else other than the barometer.
 Rainsands
Joined: 1/9/2007
Msg: 35
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 4:49:08 AM

OK. Then you agree that he cannot use anything else? Fair enough.

The calculation of height from atmospheric pressure is:

h = Tb / Lb * [(P0 / P) ^ (R*.Lb / g0.M) - 1 ]

Or for a more approximate but simpler answer:

h = ln (P0 / P) * (R*.Tb) / (g0.M)

Please demonstrate how any Physics student can calculate either of those without the aid of a calculator or log tables or anything else other than the barometer.


Aw, c'mon Scorpio, just because I point out that the instructor did not state "..... with the aid of a barometer AND A ROPE" does NOT mean that I agree that he cannot use anything else. This is a straw man fallacy. I did not state any such thing. The onus is not on me to defend or take ownership of an assumption that YOU have made. Let's stop being disingenuous - we both know that a calculator would be used.

True confessions time - mea maxima culpa. I had another reason for making that statement in my post # 51. I was hoping that someone would pick up the hint and think about the role that the law of parsimony plays in this fictional little tale ( provenance dating back to Reader's Digest 1958). I was hoping that it would afford an "aha!!!" moment but..... sigh.....

Any physics student capable of listing that many ways of arguably answering the question would surely know that Occam's Razor is the preferred heuristic. If one rereads the opening post, and counts all the "aids" that would be needed to facilitate each one of the student's "many answers to the problem", it becomes obvious that the conventional solution using the barometer (and calculator) is the only one to satisfy the law of parsimony. Additionally, the air pressure method is the ONLY one that actually uses the barometer for its intended purpose of measuring air pressure.

In the book "Expert C programming: deep C secrets" by Peter Van der Linden, pages 345 and 346 list 15 MORE methods for barometric building measurement, all along the same lines as the "answers" that the student gave. Any posters impressed by the student's "thinking outside the box" answers in the opening post are just gonna LOVE these ones which include the Pendulum, Avarice, Mafia, Ballistic, Paperweight, Sonic, Reflective, Mercantile, Analog, Trigonometric, Proportion, Photographic, Calorific and 2 different Gravitational Methods !!! And guess what folks ? None of these methods use the barometer for its intended purpose either !!! Where does the silliness stop ?

This fable can be found on a number of science related sites as a piece of humorous fluff. However, it is also found on non science related sites as a fable with a moral that generally goes along the lines of how "we should celebrate and reward the students bold enough to slash their way through the confines of the conventional boxes that education often demands, the students who cry "I will no longer be imprisoned ! I will no longer breathe stale putrid air ! I will stretch my limbs and reach for the stars ! I will fill my lungs with the freshest and purest of air ! .......yada, yada, yada.

Uh huh, yeah you go do that and don't let my office door slam your sorry ass on the way out. Though we may stipulate that the student was imaginative, in my opinion he was also immature and irresponsible. Occasions where full credit and a higher score "could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics" are just not the time to start playing keno.

Were he my student, I would unhesitatingly and resolutely mark his answer incorrect. When confronted with his whine, I would look him straight in the eye and say " You chose to gamble when you knew the stakes were high. Take ownership of the consequences of the choice you made and consider it a life lesson."
 BowdenK
Joined: 11/29/2009
Msg: 36
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 5:04:31 AM
OP

I enjoy this post. Learning to think is far more important than thinking to learn.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 37
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 7:15:03 AM
RE Msg: 59 by Rainsands:
Aw, c'mon Scorpio, just because I point out that the instructor did not state "..... with the aid of a barometer AND A ROPE" does NOT mean that I agree that he cannot use anything else. This is a straw man fallacy. I did not state any such thing. The onus is not on me to defend or take ownership of an assumption that YOU have made. Let's stop being disingenuous - we both know that a calculator would be used.
When I was a student, this was actually a debate. Originally, the exams did NOT specify anything, like this case. At the time, HP had produced some advanced scientific calculators, some of which allowed storing formulas in them. Obviously, the teachers administering the exams were perturbed at this. But they could do nothing, because the exams did not specify these were not to be used.

Teachers complained to the examining boards. There was a consideration that such formulas could be erased. But teachers couldn't be expected to know how to erase the formulas from every such calculator. So it ended up that in all exams that specified on the paper, that scientific calculators could not be used, the administrating teachers would take ALL scientific calculators from the students, even the ones without any ability to store formulas. In any exams that did not specify that scientific calculators were to be used, the students were allowed to bring in and use such calculators, even if they had formulas in them.

It's not up to a teacher to interpret what the examining boards mean by their wording of the exam. The teacher is there to administer the exam, according to the wording of the exam, and nothing else. That might perturb you, and it does many teachers. But that is the way exams were administered when I was a student. To my knowledge, that has not changed.

True confessions time - mea maxima culpa. I had another reason for making that statement in my post # 51. I was hoping that someone would pick up the hint and think about the role that the law of parsimony plays in this fictional little tale ( provenance dating back to Reader's Digest 1958). I was hoping that it would afford an "aha!!!" moment but..... sigh.....
A lot of people get confused about the law of parsimony. The law of parsimony is that of Occam's Razor, "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem", "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity".

This confused many people who didn't study logic or programming. They thought of William of Ockham as an ordinary person speaking about an extraordinary concept in ordinary language. In ordinary language, an entity might be a physical object, as ordinary people do not concern themselves with logic. So from that standing, William of Ockham was making a bold claim that the best view is that which has the least physical objects possible.

However, Occam was speaking as a philosopher of logic, speaking in logical terms. In logic, entities are logical entities, concepts. The point that Occam was making, is that one should add in as few logical assumptions as possible into one's enquiries, as assuming things that have not been proved, are more likely to lead one down the road of falsehood, than that of making as few assumptions as possible. That is an easy logical observation, that any child can grasp. If you make assumptions, you are liable to be wrong.

Any physics student capable of listing that many ways of arguably answering the question would surely know that Occam's Razor is the preferred heuristic. If one rereads the opening post, and counts all the "aids" that would be needed to facilitate each one of the student's "many answers to the problem", it becomes obvious that the conventional solution using the barometer (and calculator) is the only one to satisfy the law of parsimony. Additionally, the air pressure method is the ONLY one that actually uses the barometer for its intended purpose of measuring air pressure.
If we use Occam's Razor, we can take 2 approaches:

1) Make the extraordinary claim, that has never been proved, that the theory with the least physical objects is the most reliable. In that case, the rope is an additional physical entity that is to be assumed as being the option to not choose.

2) Make the claim everyone intuitively knows, that the theory with the least assumptions is the most reliable, simply because the more assumptions you make, the more you are likely to find some of them to be wrong. In that case, assuming the examining board meant "but don't use a rope", when they are not that stupid to assume that people wouldn't think of using alternative methods, and chose not to put that, means that we cannot assume that ropes are not to be used.

In the book "Expert C programming: deep C secrets" by Peter Van der Linden, pages 345 and 346 list 15 MORE methods for barometric building measurement, all along the same lines as the "answers" that the student gave. Any posters impressed by the student's "thinking outside the box" answers in the opening post are just gonna LOVE these ones which include the Pendulum, Avarice, Mafia, Ballistic, Paperweight, Sonic, Reflective, Mercantile, Analog, Trigonometric, Proportion, Photographic, Calorific and 2 different Gravitational Methods !!! And guess what folks ? None of these methods use the barometer for its intended purpose either !!! Where does the silliness stop ?
Programming is where this difference is highlighted often. Often, 9 out of 10 IT students follow the methods they were taught, and are unable to produce programs that solve the problems they were given by their teachers. 1 out of 10 IT students comes up with the answer, but in order to do this, they have to consider methods that are very different from what they were taught.

Were he my student, I would unhesitatingly and resolutely mark his answer incorrect. When confronted with his whine, I would look him straight in the eye and say " You chose to gamble when you knew the stakes were high. Take ownership of the consequences of the choice you made and consider it a life lesson."
Don't get me wrong. I knew quite a few students who told me that their lecturers taught like you did, that there was an expected answer, and if you gave an honest and complete answer, that they would get a big fat ZERO for their essays. They never had any respect for those teachers, or for what they taught, as they were being taught things they believed were inaccurate and incomplete. But to pass their exams, they toed the line.

They did learn a lesson from this: that in life, half of it is politics, believing one thing while pretending to believe in another. This was a very good lesson for them, as if they had been honest in later life, they would have been penalised for it, for no fault of their own. So I never disagreed with their choices.

I just felt that it was a bit of a waste to have a system that encourages such habits. It results in many people proposing policies, in business, and in academics, and in politics, not to help others out of poverty or oppression, but simply to cover one's a**, and not to be blamed for doing the unexpected thing, like fighting for human rights for all, in areas where previously those human rights were ignored.

However, some people have fought for rights against the expected answers, like those who fought for the abolition of slavery in the UK. At that time, slavery was widespread, all over the world, especially in America. Nevertheless, those few fought against slavery, and finally changed the status quo. I applaud them.

I equally applaud Churchill. He warned the world for 5 years before World War II, that Germany was arming itself for war. But the world didn't listen. They derided him for it. They were found to be wrong. But by then, no-one knew what to do. Churchill did, because he'd considered the unexpected. His speeches did what they had always done for Britain, to rally the people to fight against insurmountable odds. Without his rejection of the expected, he could not have convinced the people to fight against those odds. Without his rallying speeches, the morale of the people would have not been strong enough to survive the attacks of the Germans, and without that, the Germans would have taken the UK. Without the UK, America would have had nowhere to use as a base of operations with which to mass its troops for D-Day. Without D-Day, Germany would have taken over the whole of Europe, and a few decades later, the rest of the world.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 38
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 7:58:42 AM
Here's to the unexpected, the different, and the unusual.

Nothing is ever the way it seems until we turn it upside down.

I therefore will always embrace creative thinking.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 40
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 12:49:57 PM
All I know is I still want to be in detention with all the rope because resistance would be futile. Then Iwould recieved an "A" on my test and ace a class I would never be smart enough to pass in the first place. In my mind it is all about the story and the student that can come up with the best one (and solution) should get more that an "A"...

(OK OK I'll get out of the gutter...)

Any correct solution providing the answer should be acceptable. How can a correct answer be wrong?
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 41
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 1:00:12 PM

How can a correct answer be wrong?

Hah!... Let's see the naysayers answer that one!

Nice going. Have a beer...
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 42
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/24/2010 7:26:56 PM
How does that relate to the building in question?
Even though the answer can be given in different kinds of measurements do they not all equal to the same correct response?
 Rainsands
Joined: 1/9/2007
Msg: 43
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/26/2010 2:33:59 AM
@Scorpiomover

It's not up to a teacher to interpret what the examining boards mean by their wording of the exam. The teacher is there to administer the exam, according to the wording of the exam, and nothing else. That might perturb you, and it does many teachers. But that is the way exams were administered when I was a student. To my knowledge, that has not changed.


Scorpio, you are once more indulging in assumptions. While that may be true in the UK, it may not necessarily be true in the USA. Secondly, we are not told whether the class was at a secondary or post secondary level. Thirdly, you are assuming that ALL examination test questions are crafted by "examining boards" and that is simply not the case. Many professors craft their own examinations within the content of the course curriculum. When I was a student, not only did some of my instructors craft their own exams, two of them had written the textbooks used. Fourthly, nothing you have posted perturbs me.


A lot of people get confused about the law of parsimony. The law of parsimony is that of Occam's Razor, "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem", "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity".


A lot of people get confused about the provenance of the maxim "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" or "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." This maxim was attributed to William Ockham but has never been found in any of his writings. The maxim you have quoted was penned by John Ponce in 1639, approximately 292 years after Ockham's death.


However, Occam was speaking as a philosopher of logic, speaking in logical terms. In logic, entities are logical entities, concepts. The point that Occam was making, is that one should add in as few logical assumptions as possible into one's enquiries, as assuming things that have not been proved, are more likely to lead one down the road of falsehood, than that of making as few assumptions as possible. That is an easy logical observation, that any child can grasp. If you make assumptions, you are liable to be wrong.


This whole paragraph is based on your premise that Ockham authored the maxim "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem". He did not. What HAS been found in Ockham's theological work "Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi" is "Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate" (Plurality must never be posited without necessity). In his philosophical work " Summa Totius Logicae", Ockham cites the principle of economy," Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora" (It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.) or (It is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.) Though we can stipulate that Ockham certainly spoke of entities in his extant works, we cannot stipulate that he spoke of nothing other than entities. Consider the following -

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ~

Logic, for Ockham, is crucial to the advancement of knowledge. In the "Prefatory Letter" to his Summa of Logic, for example, he praises it in striking language:

For logic is the most useful tool of all the arts. Without it no science can be fully known. It is not worn out by repeated use, after the manner of material tools, but rather admits of continual growth through the diligent exercise of any other science. For just as a mechanic who lacks a complete knowledge of his tool gains a fuller knowledge by using it, so one who is educated in the firm principles of logic, while he painstakingly devotes his labor to the other sciences, acquires at the same time a greater skill at this art.



If we use Occam's Razor, we can take 2 approaches:

1) Make the extraordinary claim, that has never been proved, that the theory with the least physical objects is the most reliable. In that case, the rope is an additional physical entity that is to be assumed as being the option to not choose.


Your interpretation, not mine. For the most part, I (perhaps mistakenly) feel that it is not necessary to measure my arguments in teensy weensy baby steps for the benefit of those debating my posts. In retrospect, perhaps I should have first introduced the "idea" of using no more aids than necessary. I had taken it for granted that this was implied. My bad. I certainly did not intend to suggest that the law of parsimony is restricted to physical objects only.


2) Make the claim everyone intuitively knows, that the theory with the least assumptions is the most reliable, simply because the more assumptions you make, the more you are likely to find some of them to be wrong. In that case, assuming the examining board meant "but don't use a rope", when they are not that stupid to assume that people wouldn't think of using alternative methods, and chose not to put that, means that we cannot assume that ropes are not to be used.


You are assuming that an examining board crafted the exam. You are excluding the possibility that the instructor himself crafted the exam based on the material that was covered in the course.


Programming is where this difference is highlighted often. Often, 9 out of 10 IT students follow the methods they were taught, and are unable to produce programs that solve the problems they were given by their teachers. 1 out of 10 IT students comes up with the answer, but in order to do this, they have to consider methods that are very different from what they were taught.


Cite ?


Don't get me wrong. I knew quite a few students who told me that their lecturers taught like you did, that there was an expected answer, and if you gave an honest and complete answer, that they would get a big fat ZERO for their essays. They never had any respect for those teachers, or for what they taught, as they were being taught things they believed were inaccurate and incomplete. But to pass their exams, they toed the line.


How ever would you know how I teach ? You have never been one of my students. It is highly improbable that you have ever met any of my students. Are you making assumptions about me based on the contents of my posts in one thread in one forum on one site ? Do these few posts really define how I have taught and assessed my medical, math, logic/fallacies, and debate/negotiation students ? You have summed up the totality of my years of teaching using such an impoverished data base ? How presumptuous of you.

Though you may feel that this paragraph strengthens your argument, it remains anecdotal. Forgive me but I am having a hard time believing that your subset of students ("quite a few") would all get big fat zeroes for ESSAY style exams. In my opinion, these are exactly the type of exams where instructors are more apt to allow, accept, or even encourage independent thought and creativity within the context of the subject matter. At least I have done so.


I just felt that it was a bit of a waste to have a system that encourages such habits. It results in many people proposing policies, in business, and in academics, and in politics, not to help others out of poverty or oppression, but simply to cover one's a**, and not to be blamed for doing the unexpected thing, like fighting for human rights for all, in areas where previously those human rights were ignored.


Hmmm, a bit of torturous construction here. Is this your opinion or can you cite your sources ?


However, some people have fought for rights against the expected answers, like those who fought for the abolition of slavery in the UK. At that time, slavery was widespread, all over the world, especially in America. Nevertheless, those few fought against slavery, and finally changed the status quo. I applaud them.


Did they really fight for rights against the expected answers ? I thought they fought to end the practice of slave trade and emancipate slaves as a function of their beliefs that all men have undeniable rights by virtue of their equality.


I equally applaud Churchill................................ the rest of the world.


Are you suggesting that Germany would have taken over the whole of Europe and the rest of the world had Churchill not been born ??? It would have been nice to see an "in my opinion" somewhere, anywhere in this paragraph.

@quietjohn2

It seems telling that a majority of the posts in this thread, rather than celebrate a fun STORY about creativity and inventiveness, choose to perpetuate the pedantry that the STORY chose to challenge.


Ouch - a very thinly veiled ad hominem, yes ?

A majority of posts in this thread were, to use Dukky's words, posted by naysayers ? That is interesting, considering that there are approximately twice as many committed yeasayers as committed naysayers.

Does the STORY choose to challenge pedantry or have YOU chosen to interpret it this way because of the opinions you have on this matter ? This tale can be found on a number of joke and humour sites. Are you claiming exclusivity of truth in your interpretation ? Are those who simply view it as a piece of humour WRONG ?


I'm quite sure that the STORY teller, in designing both the QUESTION and the ANSWER, chose to phrase things ambiguously for the benefit of the STORY. Perhaps the moral is more how WE choose to view the STORY ourselves, thus being somewhat more general than the message of the STORY itself. What does this say about the first sentence of the OP?


You may be interested in reading the last paragraph of "Angels on a Pin, A Modern Parable" by Alexander Calandra, Saturday Review, Dec 21, 1968.


At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the "scientific method", and to explore the deep inner logic of the subject in a pedantic way, as is often done in the new mathematics, rather than teaching him the structure of the subject. With this in mind, he decided to revive scholasticism as an academic lark to challenge the Sputnik-panicked classrooms of America.


There is some debate re whether Calandra actually wrote this (it does not appear in 2 earlier versions authored by Calandra) or whether an editor at The Saturday Review decided that the story might profit from some ornamentation. Because this debate has not been resolved, some scholars believe "that Calandra (or possibly the editor of the Saturday Review) seems confused, and it's not clear what point (if any) he (or the editor) was trying to make."


In all of the hyperbole about the 'best' method, no-one seems to have come up with any estimates of errors in the (presumed) desired method, or alternative methods in the story, so much of what has been said is mere speculation. Once more underlining the rigidity and even unrealistic arguments that always seem so easy to fall into.


Knowing that this little fiction, as far as is known, first appeared in 1958, and knowing what method of teaching was de facto during that time, in my opinion estimation of errors is moot.

@raraavis41

The question is one of who is more pedantic, the teacher or the student?


I might add "or the posters who insist that the author of the question should be scrupulously pedantic in his/her phrasing of same question while averring that students answering the question should be liberated from the constraints of pedantry."

@Mar{lets}go

Any correct solution providing the answer should be acceptable.


You are assuming that any alternative solution that the student listed is correct. According to whom ?


How can a correct answer be wrong?


In this OP, an arguably correct answer can be wrong when it does not confirm that the student has demonstrated competence in the intended use of a barometer to measure height as covered in the course content of the physics curriculum for that level. An arguably correct answer can also be wrong when both parties of the debate have not agreed on a definition of "correct".


How does that relate to the building in question? Even though the answer can be given in different kinds of measurements do they not all equal to the same correct response?


It is painfully obvious that you have completely misunderstood msg # 67 by raraavis41. I shall leave it to him to answer these questions.

@JustDukky

Hah!... Let's see the naysayers answer that one!


I just did. On a science jokes site, I have found a list of 143 "other" answers to this question. If every student sitting the exam gave one of the "other" answers, should they all be given full credit when not one of them has demonstrated competance in the intended use of a barometer to measure height as covered in the course content of the physics curriculum for that level ?

What if medical students gave 143 alternative answers to a question on a medical exam ? How about 143 engineering students each giving "other" answers on an exam in their discipline ? Would you give full credit to these students as well ? Where does one draw the line in regard to assessing and ensuring that students achieve some basic standard of proficiency in their programs ?

I shall close with a poem by Ogden Nash that I feel would provide our student with some valuable advice ~

Reflection on Ingenuity
Here's a good rule of thumb:
Too clever is dumb.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 44
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/26/2010 8:58:50 AM
The original qustion stated it was to be solved with the aid of a barometer.
AID~ not how it was to be used, or how it was to be solved. It was not specific.

You answered my question in a response that suited your teaching mind.
It however did not suit my inquiring mind that learns so much from these awesome posters on a regular basis. As a student of this thread I have learned more from Dukky and John. (darn it does that mean I can't stay in detention?)
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 46
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/26/2010 6:04:27 PM
RE Msg: 69 by Rainsands:

1) You really take me too seriously. I get up a lot of people's noses, but mainly because I seem to have a knack for looking at things from angles that others tell me they've never considered. I still have to consider their view, of course. So I try to consider all views. But it still seems to get up a lot of people's noses, when I point out that there is more than one way to look at things.

2) I did consider that the USA might have a different way of doing things. But as everyone I know who has compared the students of the UK and US educational systems seems to regard the US students as being far less educated, both in breadth of knowledge and in depth of understanding, I didn't really want to get into that.

3) AFAIK, the same rules apply on primary and secondary level exams in the UK.

4) Obviously, one can point out that exams are often designed by teachers. An oral exam is still an exam, and so is any test set by a teacher. Even a question asked to you is an exam. But we cannot validate those questions in comparing people's ability to answer them so easily as we can with the questions set by an examining board that are set on a national level. However, even in exams in university where lecturers set their exams, AFAIK, the same rules applied in the UK to them as well.

5) You clearly agree with my point about not making assumptions, as you pointed out that I had made assumptions, as if that was a problem. Thing is, if you apply the rule of not making assumptions, then to follow the "simplest" argument, or to follow the "expected method", requires assumptions. So the minute you agree that making assumptions is not a good thing, they go out the window.

6) Thank you for pointing out that Occam's Razor was actually said by John Ponce. I did not know this. In future, I will point this out to everyone who cites it.

7) To be honest, I don't use an argument just because someone called William of Ockham said it, any more than I would use an argument because John Smith said it. I use an argument because it seems logical and useful to me.

I have just found that in my life, many people pick what they considered the simplest answer, or the expected answer, and frequently, they would get it wrong, and everyone around paid the price for it. That's just something about humanity I learned to accept. But for some reason, I looked at things differently. However, I could not be sure of myself, when so many went another way. So I considered both ways. But, having found 2 ways, I realised there could be more, and maybe they were right. So I would consider even more. Then I started to notice, that when I considered things, I would often see answers that others did not, but that more often than not, people would not listen. However, when they did, I noticed that everyone in the room seemed to think I had something important to say.

At school, most of my teachers seemed to prefer the expected from us. But then, most of my fellow classmates thought little of our teachers. So it really didn't make a difference. However, only a few teachers were respected by the teachers, and these were the ones who were the most logical in my eyes. They were very authoritarian. But their discipline was an open discipline. If you could solve a problem by a different way, they would hear it out. But if you simply refused to do the work, then you suffered highly. For some reason, it was these teachers that got the best results from all their pupils, who were the only ones to command discipline from their pupils, and who their pupils actually respected.

So I guess you could say that all of my post is "my opinion". It's "my opinion" that when people make assumptions, In the workplace, I often had to pick up the slack, because I seemed to be the only one to consider what to do if the assumptions of the expected method turned out to be false. I found it also to be a very highly useful tool in diagnosing a problem in IT. In one case, a problem that had stumped 4 programmers, all much better programmers than me, for 4 hours, I solved in 5 minutes. Neither was this an isolated case. I have done this sort of thing often. Many imagine it is because I have a "knack", or skill they cannot comprehend. Really, I'm quite a lot slower than they are. But I do do one thing when I'm diagnosing a problem with a computer. I look for all the assumptions that people would normally make, the expected answers, and then imagine the opposite, and try to see if they are there, and that is usually the problem, at least with the code I've looked at, which is probably millions of lines of code by now.

Maybe your way is better. I know that when it comes to learning a language, or using anything else determined by social convention, it has an arbitrary but fixed basis, where the expected answers are really the only answers. But I have seen one thing consistently: when it comes to things that can be solved by logic, then my way works for me and everyone that uses it. IMHO, it works, a hell of a lot better than following the expected method.

8) Were someone I know to have a teacher who marks them for the expected answer, then I would tell them what I would tell anyone with such a teacher, to just give whatever they think is the expected answer, but to realise that the expected answer is what the teacher expects, and that is based on who they are. But people are different, and that student will meet many who do not share that teacher's expectations, who that student may have to work for, or may be taught by in a later class. With those people, different expectations will hold, and what was the right answer for the first teacher will likely be the wrong answer for the second, and vice versa. So they have to look at it as a class to get through, but not to hold any expectation that anything taught to them in that class is going to be valid for other situations, not without careful independent examination of everything studied to remove anything that was due to the expectations of the teacher, and not due to true information or facts.

9) I expressed the view of Churchill that I have encountered here in the UK, from many here, including those who lived through the war, including my own mother, but also others too. If you disagree, then you should know that many Americans do not share this view, although the Canadians I have met in the UK, and discussed the war with, also seemed to be of the same opinion.

I don't know of your experiences. But as you are 55, and a Libra, then you were 55 in 2009, which would make you born in 1954, about 9 years after the war. You're quite a lot younger than my parents, or my grandparents, or most people I learned about the war from. So it's very difficult for me to take your views seriously, when I'd spent a lot of time discussing the matter with people much closer to the subject.

10) As to your beliefs and what you do, I don't have a gun to your head. You are free to do as you wish, as am I. I just know what works for me, and can observe what works for others.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 48
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 4:52:02 AM
RE Msg: 73 by quietjohn2:

Ouch - a very thinly veiled ad hominem
was actually directed at arguments on behalf of both.
Fair enough. I acknowledge that I can be a pain in the a**.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 49
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 7:05:20 AM
Rainsands is correct, concise and relevant, as usual.
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Some Specific Answers…

Msg 63

It seems telling that a majority of the posts in this thread, rather than celebrate a fun STORY about creativity and inventiveness, choose to perpetuate the pedantry that the STORY chose to challenge.
Nope. The intent of the story was to perpetuate the myth that the fertile mind is unjustly muzzled by the academic system. The adjudicator is illustrated as being mired in process and presumption, when in reality, even a carefully crafted tale cannot show anything but the student surreptitiously ignoring the context of the question to travel down a differing path.

The “creativity and inventiveness” of the student one refers to is actually “insolence and haughtiness”. We have proven this. “Refutation” of our assertions has also been shown to be based on faulty logic and the usual host of disambiguation (straw man arguments) and diatribes into relatively irrelevant details. We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Rainsands is also correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

Msg 63

I'm quite sure that the STORY teller, in designing both the QUESTION and the ANSWER, chose to phrase things ambiguously for the benefit of the STORY. Perhaps the moral is more how WE choose to view the STORY ourselves, thus being somewhat more general than the message of the STORY itself. What does this say about the first sentence of the OP?

That the story teller (and yes, EVERYONE realizes it is a STORY) chooses to be as vague as possible is a given. What is significant is that even then, the teller could not craft it without framing the situation as a PHYSICS exam, and that a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used. If it were merely a question and not a physics question, AND if no barometer was indicated, you may have a point. As that is not the case, you do not.

Viewing a story correctly does not include leaving out important details. Even then, many educators are open to evaluating answers that speciously ignore such constraints (there’s nothing “pedantic” about that). We have already covered the point that elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two (nor does discipline restrict creativity: in reality it focuses creativity and places things in perspective.)

Msg 63

In all of the hyperbole about the 'best' method, no-one seems to have come up with any estimates of errors in the (presumed) desired method, or alternative methods in the story, so much of what has been said is mere speculation. Once more underlining the rigidity and even unrealistic arguments that always seem so easy to fall into.
Nope. We are certain that you understand that hyperbole is exaggeration and usually is often meandering trips into simile that border or cross into irrelevancy. The notion of “a best method for the tool given” is not an exaggeration. Hence to label it as hyperbole is incorrect.

As far as the analyses of error, none of it is necessary if the student merely answer the question via the conventional method. We have already covered this.

The only hyperbole we see is when posters (be it this thread or others) have no valid logical rebuttal, and instead take some loosely related detail and expand on it beyond to deflect from being wrong about the salient issue. In some cases, people will employ outright falsehood to do this. As usual, we leave it to the general audience to see where this occurs.

Msg 63

Had the STORY teller chosen a truly smart student, he would have had the student acknowledge the expected answer, defining the expected measures and computations of the solution. In the process, highlighting assumptions and inacuracies (such as the 10% error acknowledged by NOAA - http://www.crh.noaa.gov/unr/?n=mslp) and then go on to list other methods.
Yes. This is what we have maintained.

As far as a 10% error, note that what is being measured and calculated in the link is really quite different from that of the story.

Msg 63

Then, perhaps quoting Occam's razor to weed out excessive additional equipment, inaccuracies and assumptions, come up with the most appropriate solution. My guess would be comparing shadow lengths - or trading the barometer for a rangefinder.
There may be conditions as to why the measurement is to be done by barometric methods (We caution those that think they have refuted this to realize that merely because The Collective does not answer does not mean we do not have an answer.) If a client asks for such a solution, one can certainly offer an error analyses, and alternate methods, but one must remember that assuming the client is “too stupid or too regimented to realize that”, is generally an incorrect assumption.
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Rainsands is correct, concise and relevant, as usual.

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 50
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 11:51:04 PM

We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Get real. He gave correct answers to the question. How does that merit a zero? I'd have given him full marks...more if it were possible for the creative thinking involved. If I had made up the question like that I would be the one (rightfully) humbled by his clever answers and bite the bullet of my pride. IMO the question reveals more of the test taker than the student. Obviously it wasn't framed in such a way that allowed no logical alternatives (which it ought to have been if the one making up the question was worth his salt as an educator)

correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

So contempt is good for marks (deducted)? Did it say THAT on the test? The kid was right to find the question an insult to his intelligence. Retaliation with a contemptuous (but correct) answer only points out the flawed question.

a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used.

...and it was, was it not?

elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

In that case, the question ought not to have allowed for it. If there exist more correct answers than are given in the answer key, whose fault is that?

Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two

It depends what you mean by discipline in process. If you mean "discipline" as in marking a zero for a contemptuous but correct answer, then that isn't discipline in process, that is narrow mindedness.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 51
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/28/2010 12:46:06 AM
As my daughter put it (I followed her the two hours from her house to mine),
while we sang B-I-N-G-O over our cell phones... BINGO
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 52
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:13:55 PM
The whole point is that “CONTEXT” is everything.

This has been clearly explained. This excuse of “the instructor never clearly stated the question” totally depends on ignoring context. There is always this immediate assumption that it is the examiner who was being “narrow-minded”, but it has been shown that smug answers are rarely as well thought out as one thinks. We have proven that it has occurred in the fictional story. It is ironic that it is also demonstrated in equally self-satisfied, but fundamentally flawed, attempts at rebuttals here too.

If you have some new angle on this, by all means let’s hear it. But if it’s just ignoring the CONTEXT again, we will refer back to this message.
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Some specific answers…


Msg 76


We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Get real. He gave correct answers to the question. How does that merit a zero?

We have already explained why the student did not give a “correct” answer. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that you may have missed it, we shall explain again.

The question was framed in a physics exam, and was further qualified with the use of a specialized instrument with specific functionality. To offer an alternate use without explanation as to why it was chosen over the conventional use is not worthy of marks.

Also, consider that conditions that favour the intended use, may not favour the use of the method suggested by the student (that of chaining.) Had the student mentioned the caveats necessary for his method, chances are he would have attained at least a marginally passing grade for thinking the problem through.

However, since the implication of the exam was to test the understanding of how pressure is related to depth, it is a requirement to, at a bare minimum, demonstrate it. The student did not so he fails.

The concept of implied conditions has also been explained. It is pure folly to consider that one can reject constraints to support answers that require them to be lifted. If this were so, all constraints could be lifted and replaced with convenient ones. Usually methods are constrained because other methods are not practical (and no, one doesn’t always have sight lines available or the luxury of triangulation). It would be like offering the solution of “just use a pry bar” only to discover that the reason you were asked to employ a smaller device with a specific method was because there was NO ROOM to use a lever (or resources to build an adaptor.) What was that? They should have said so? Nope. They already implied it when they gave you the device with a specific method.

Msg 76

I'd have given him full marks...more if it were possible for the creative thinking involved.

The test was on barometric concepts. Answer that and receive full marks. If one is considering “creative thinking”, that can be applied after achieving the main goal. Whether that creative thinking is in the form of method and error analyses, or a combination of that and a lovely pen and ink caricature of the instructor, that is the way to express real creativity. (Of course, all sorts of essay into the character of the instructor, or claims of victory based on false data are not.)

Msg 76

If I had made up the question like that I would be the one (rightfully) humbled by his clever answers and bite the bullet of my pride. IMO the question reveals more of the test taker than the student. Obviously it wasn't framed in such a way that allowed no logical alternatives (which it ought to have been if the one making up the question was worth his salt as an educator)

This is the presumption that always elicits so much anger when refuted. The truth is all those “clever” answers are actually poorly thought out. Has one even considered the inherent problems with draping a “rope” over the edge of a tall building? (Yes, that includes Burj Kahlifa.) Geometry, material properties, oscillation, etc are all important factors. What about the pendulum methods? Did the student really demonstrate knowledge of their limitations within the domain of answers to be expected? H.G. Lucky pointed out the fundamental oversight with the distance to time calculation. The answers were not in the least “clever.”

As far as leaving too much room for interpretation, we have covered this. If the student elects to take the more challenging path… then show the work, and get the bonus points. However, to go for the gold with the game of a neophyte is a recipe for the big fat ZERO.

People think that this is a “hard line” and is not encouraging “creative thought”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even as a “story”, it has to be relayed that REAL creativity is not as easily come by as that. We do not think a single instructor out there would not be thrilled with seeing real creativity. So, yes… we have, indeed, gotten “real”.

Msg 76



correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

So contempt is good for marks (deducted)? Did it say THAT on the test? The kid was right to find the question an insult to his intelligence. Retaliation with a contemptuous (but correct) answer only points out the flawed question.

You do realize that what you just quoted was an agreement with Rainsands comment about a statement in msg 63 (and not that of the fictional student’s answer). We’ll assume it was an oversight…

Demonstrating contempt is probably good for all sorts of disciplinary action, but many adjudicators are reasonably forgiving. As far as an insult to one’s intelligence, the student may have felt so, but exhibited such a poor “rebuttal” that he gave evidence that his premise of superior aptitude was ill-conceived. Lol. Those “cute” answers proved no intelligence to his insult.

This is why a real “rebuttal” would have gone into analyses of the errors in the conventional method as well as an offer of an alternate solution and its associated error analyses. Of course, none of this mitigates neither ignoring the implied conditions that more precise methods may not be available nor neglecting that the specific knowledge being examined was not demonstrated.

Please read our analogy of about “driver’s license, please” as facetiously “correct” rarely earns one any respect let alone passing grades. If the student felt the question was too open to interpretation, who was really not applying “critical thinking” by not realizing that the question was not about all the other ways a barometer can be used?

Msg 76


a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used.

...and it was, was it not?
It should be apparent that the specific attributes are the attributes which set a barometer apart from some non-descript piece of modern art or a can of beans. (We did explain this, so specific is adequate a term in this context.) As such, the student did not.

Msg 76



elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

In that case, the question ought not to have allowed for it. If there exist more correct answers than are given in the answer key, whose fault is that?
We’ve already addressed how “playing out of bounds” means playing a more dangerous game.

The question essentially doesn’t allow for it within the explicit and implied constraints. Yes. There are obvious constraints. If one is in Manhattan (yes, NYC) and ask for directions to Broadway and Third, no one (including that fictional student) can claim “you didn’t ask specifically in which city” and send you on the way to Los Angeles without being speciously obtuse.

We also note that latitude is allowed if the more difficult answer is chosen. If that is not in the “answer key”, it remains to be seen. Just what is in this answer key that we have apparently overlooked?

Msg 76



Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two

It depends what you mean by discipline in process. If you mean "discipline" as in marking a zero for a contemptuous but correct answer, then that isn't discipline in process, that is narrow mindedness.

That would be “discipline in process” as in procedure to problem-solving (which includes firstly identifying a problem, its scope, and its constraints.) But if one wants to frame that as in respects to the process of adjudication, we have already covered that too.

If one wants to say that the question was ambiguous, we have already demonstrated that it actually wasn’t (read that part about Manhattan again.) If one wants to say that merely offering an alternate method was enough, we have already mentioned that methods than employ poor use of devices supplied, offer questionable results, and may require far more equipment and resources than reasonably available, is incompletion.

We have already allowed much latitude in that not realizing the intended use of an instrument, and instead choose to use it in method that does not demonstrate adequate understanding of the topic being examined is essentially a failing result. Given that, the student had to show that he understood the implications of his methodology (which he did NOT … see the part where H.G. Lucky pointed to the flaw in the d=1/2at^2 calculation).

None of that process in adjudication is “narrow-mindedness”.

If anything, the student was narrow-minded in thinking that the examiner wasn’t aware of all these “cute” answers and would expect MORE if one wants to escalate the challenge.

The mark of a “big fat ZERO” is for an INCOMPLETE answer that demonstrated narrow-mindedness on the part of the fictional student.
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The whole point is that “CONTEXT” is everything. This has been clearly explained. This excuse of “the instructor never clearly stated the question” totally depends on ignoring context. There is always this immediate assumption that it is the examiner who was being “narrow-minded”, but it has been shown that smug answers are rarely as well thought out as one thinks. We have proven that it has occurred in the fictional story. It is ironic that it is also demonstrated in equally self-satisfied, but fundamentally flawed, attempts at rebuttals here too.

If you have some new angle on this, by all means let’s hear it. But if it’s just ignoring the CONTEXT again, we will refer back to this message.


You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
(Marlets… Enough talk… post up some “knotty” photos… Lol.)
 itsallinthesoul
Joined: 6/26/2009
Msg: 53
The wrong answer
Posted: 2/1/2010 11:19:04 AM
What a lovely story and that student is someone I would love to meet and talk with. As a group, we tend to think in terms of what we have been told is the "right" answer to all of the questions of life. Gifted is the one who can visualize many "right" answers to any questions and has learned to walk alone......
 JP1111
Joined: 4/13/2008
Msg: 54
The wrong answer
Posted: 2/28/2010 11:00:47 PM
I think the two are not related since one answer (the one the teacher will want) will be a comprehension of the subject at hand and the other will be a demonstration of creative thought.

I find that in life, the use of both of these is crucial. Even when you graduate and need to find a job, the thing most people do is to look for job postings that are advertised in the newspaper/job banks etc… But it will take a keen mind to think about other ways of tackling and approaching it differently… like I did!
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 55
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 6:38:09 AM
I'm reminded of a problem included on a test I took in an advanced probability and statistics class many years ago:

"Five politicians meet for lunch. Each shakes hands with each of the others exactly once. How many total handshakes occurred?" Show your work.

Given all the more complicated problems we'd been working on in that class, all of the other students utilized complex formulas to fill a page with calculations and ultimately reach the correct answer. (10)

I simply drew a circle on the paper, marked five dots on the circle, connected all the dots, and counted the lines between dots.

Not only did I get credited for getting the answer right, when we went back over the test the prof first had one of the other students go to the board and demonstrate his complex method of solving the problem, then had me show my method, and admonished everyone to not make math harder than it needed to be.

Dave
 Inicia
Joined: 12/21/2007
Msg: 56
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 11:46:18 AM
It appears that what the student demonstrated was an inability to grasp the understanding of authority figures. Which is demonstrated in every aspect of our world.

In essence we can all run around giving answers that are not expected of us and ask questions hoping to trip people into giving predictable answers or stumbling blocks and see who we can trip up::: so be it..


A) exists in as much as the problem exists it doesn't. or

WE could go on forever with scenarios to respond to this situation.....It really doesn't matter it is culturally determined. It is determined by not the correct math answer, that is irrelevant. the solution to your hypothetical problem is determined by the academic system within which a student is placed and the desired outcome of the education .

IMO Right now for our education system it seems that the desired outcome is the right answer.. and they want students to know the right answer not question what the hell is going on......we are past that phase.. it is too late.. we have to know what is going on and get the right answer and do something about it.... no more questioning the game of life... lol get off my duff and answer it right and do what I personally need to do on my path what ever that may be....It was once fun to question why my shadow was here but now there is a big hole in the ozone burning my flesh off figure some solutions out beyond bullcrap bug my teacher for their ability to phrase a question or waste a students time nit picking. we got bigger things to worry about....
 dalane75
Joined: 3/20/2009
Msg: 57
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 9:45:51 PM
I have browsed through the posts so forgive me if I cover material that has already been addressed.

After browsing the posts I cannot help but think that an important detail has been overlooked that could be beneficial in coming to an agreement. Without this detail it is easy to digress from evaluating the moral of the story given that the moral of the story has not been revealed. An apparent moral of the story is that students that are bright or at least creative in their thinking will be hampered by the dictates of the powers of the educational system.

The important detail is that the independent arbiter is the narrator of the story. This may seem to be insignificant except in the fact that the narrator of the story is an independent arbiter and so much like the reader of the story. The reader in turn is forced into the position of the student in which they must work from the information given and determine the context of the question. The reader in determining the proper course of action also becomes like the teacher. The reader is like all three (no wonder there is such a difference in opinion.)

If as another post mentioned that the moral of the story is a parody on the reader then we forced into a conundrum for we are like all three characters. The apparent position of the story forces us to conclude that the story is not about the proper way of asking a question or in determing the answer. It becomes a story that forces us to evaluate our values and which character that we identify to based on those values. The ambiguities of the narration show that any answer is debatable and the position the reader is placed makes us believe (make-believe) the story means something. It is thus my contention that the moral of the story is to show the in-the-box thinking that we have been raised in with a make believe notion that we must apply values of right and wrong to a story. If you read the story it is only one that presents two sides without judgement. It is the reader that believes they must judge. The only decision the narrator makes is that both are given a second chance and the student is given a further vague set of instructions.

So my thoughts on the story is that its moral point, what it leads us to conclude, is that the story is just a story. We allow ourselves to be caught in boxes we form...even when we think creatively. Without any value argued, with only a retelling of a story we allow ourselves to makes values from it. Suppose we are only to read it and thinking outside the box, to follow the test, to judge fairly, we must as the reader only read it.
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