Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Flexible thinking skills

Speaking of Azumanga Daioh, in one of the episodes, there's this joke:

Q: A watermelon, an apple, an orange, and a pear are in the back of a truck. The truck turns a corner. Which is the first to fall?
A: The speed.

It's incredibly funny because the only person who is able to get the correct answer is Osaka - the strangest, most random character of them all.

Here's another. And it's actually something that appears frequently on standardized tests. I think they belong on intelligence tests too, but I can't be sure right now and don't have the effort it takes to look it up. If someone can just tell me, that would be cool.

Anyway, here it is:

Which of the following is different from the others?
a) a sparrow
b) a polar bear
c) a giraffe
d) a dog

The typical correct answer available on multiple choice tests would be a) because it's a bird and the others aren't. But b) would also work because it's natural habitat is the north pole, while the others are found elsewhere. And c) would work because that's the only animal in the group that chews it's cud. And d) would also technically work because it's a common household pet while the others are not so much.

Those latter three choices are found rarely, if at all, as the correct choice on tests. It's one of the reasons why I dislike multiple choice questions as the only way to test how much a student has learned. It also doesn't tell you much about their intelligence either. What it DOES tell you is how well the student can think along conventional lines, or perhaps how well they can take multiple choice exams.

A friend gave me that book (in the photo) on mind puzzles and other such riddles and games. I haven't had the opportunity to use this resource in the classroom very much. Which is sad, I really should make more effort in encouraging flexible thinking like this. Students love puns and riddles too, particularly around 3rd grade.

Here's one more to round out the post. It doesn't make sense unless you know that the Cantonese word for flat, rice noodles is "fun."

Q: What kind of flat rice noodle dish has ice cream in it?
A: "Sefun E-lefun" (Seven Eleven - the /v/ sound and the /f/ sound in Cantonese are very similar).


Janet said...


I liked the first Q & A....

I agreed with your opinion on the second Q & A....

I groaned at the last Q & A...

It's just as bad as:

Q: There were 5 birds sitting on a branch on a tree. A man shot a bird. How many birds were left?

A: None. No birds dumb enough to still keep sitting there...

*laugh laugh*

bun2bon said...


Really, riddles are so much fun and groan worthy. People should enjoy them more. =)