Creative or “Wrong” Answers to Test Questions?

I got these amusing images in my email. You’ve probably seen them before too.

Have a look at the answers given to some test questions. The students were of course “not wrong”. Although they may have scored “zero” for a test on knowledge, I think they still scored top marks for creative and “not wrong” answers.

Looking from a different perspective, were they really “wrong”?.

I know what you are thinking: they were being tested for their knowledge and grasp of the subject, so they should have given the answers expected to prove it. I do not disagree with this, because they are in an institution to learn and a form of assessment is required from time to time to gauge their knowledge.

But on the other hand, the teacher should also encourage creative thinking. He could have added a comment  like “I like your thinking”, even while giving “zero” marks, and explain in person why he thinks so. I’m a strong believer in encouraging creativity from young, and where better than in school, instead of pushing students to learn by rote and placing a huge deal on conformity.

It reminds me of a joke I heard some time ago:
A student could not answer the questions in his test paper, and for every question, he wrote “I don’t know, only God knows”. The teacher marking his paper was amused, and returned his test paper with her comment “Haha, very funny. God passed, you failed.”

Apple says “Think Different“, and that’s what they do with their products. Sir Ken Robinson says education needs to shift into a new paradigm, that of encouraging and allowing multiple and different answers. This is what divergent thinking is all about, and the core to developing lateral thinking skills. The key to creative thinking is coming up with several possibilities to how an idea can work, or how many answers there are, to a given idea or question.

What do you think?

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