Oct 182014
 

There is a old saying: “really smart children don’t do well in school.”  It may be easy to dismiss this as a cliche, but it is important for parents and tutors to remember that the reason it became a cliche is because it is so often true.  The reason this happens can be illustrated by the following math story problem:

“If there are 3 apples and you take away 2, how many do you have?”

Depending on the school, you might find a question like this in first or second grade.  Unfortunately,  standardized tests and worksheets often contain this sort of grammatical ambiguity.  A student who is truly behind in math might put a wrong answer, or no answer, because they have difficulty translating the story problem into numbers.  The “normal” student will likely convert this into “3-2=1” and probably be counted as correct.  The gifted student, however, may put “2” . . . because the question asks how many apples you have, not how many are left; if you take two apples then you have at least two apples, maybe more if you already had some, until you eat some or give some away or lose some . . .    The gifted student often doesn’t see the “obvious” but less accurate answer, or may see so many possible answers that they get lost in the options.  Depending on the student’s situation, you may need to to explain to him or her that tests often do not want the right answer, they want the simple answer.

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