A Fairy Tale Module in Primary 1?

Counting down 4 months before K enters Primary 1. I think I am less enthusiastic than I should be, instead of giving him more preparation work for primary 1, we are taking it easy.

A little too easy I think, as the only classes he attend weekly are Chinese enrichment classes. I have to admit that Chinese is just about the only subject that makes me a tad nervous about Primary 1. Yesterday, it just dawned on me that there is this other subject that I have not taught him; Fairy Tales.

I have discovered that your child needs to have the knowledge of fairy tales, specifically, politically correct fairy tales. See this photo taken from a friend, who shared her child’s answers from a segment from an actual Primary 1 English Test  Paper on Facebook.

Pri1 1Photo used with permission from the mom

So the child was penalized for not knowing her fairy tales, or rather, stories that are in their right structure and order. Handsome princes can never be turned into snakes by fairy godmothers, and castles should always be beautiful, but cannot be on beautiful green fields.

Really, I don’t see anything wrong with the answers she provided. There are no grammatical or spelling errors. and the language structure is correct. The teacher must have added a politically correct fairy tale module in her evaluation of these answers, thus, the child will not pass based on her slightly varied take to what is deem as a right representation of sentence structure in fairy tales.

I assume that the purpose of this question was to get the child to test the child’s ability to; re-arrange the sentence, identify and build sentence parts and probably capitalize sentence beginnings and punctuate statements. This questions were likely meant to test the child’s skills to select the appropriate language structure and become an independent writer. So then, why is the child being penalized for not knowing her fairy tales?

This, I believe, is just a common example of how conformity is being inculcated in our local education system. Success through education is determined by exam results, which have marking schemes to follow. There is only ONE right answer to every question.

I thought about what I will do if K encounters the same things when he start Primary school next year:

1. Meet the teacher, and explain my view on why this answer should be marked as correct. However, this will be dependent on whether I have already sized up the teacher to find out more about her personality. If she is open and accommodating to parental feedback, she might feel a little apologetic and then change her marking on the paper. Or if the teacher is by-the-book and inflexible, my child might get unnecessary attention amongst the 29 other kids in class or just get ignored eventually.


2. Explain to child that conformity is part of societal expectations, model answers and behavior is needed to get approval from teachers and school. However, share with child that his answer is correct according to English language structure and rules. And continue to encourage creativity in modules of creative writing, problem solving and life in general, apart from school.

Frankly, I think this is rather sad, but so real in our educational system. Here’s my proposition for Singapore School Education that embodies how I see it at this point;

Singapore Primary School Education – Train your kids to be square pegs to fit into perfect square holes for a box.

Likely Responsible for coma-tosing your child’s creativity over time.

I can’t help but to be cynical when I see things like that, and wonder what then happens to the round pegs, triangular pegs, the oval pegs, or how about those pegs which don’t really have a defined shape.

In the meantime, I need to get my hands on a fairy tale book to do read-alouds with the little boy.

Do share what you will do if you encounter this situation with your child. Will you take it in your stride and just address it with your child separately, resign to the situation and not pursue it further, and/or choose to speak to the teacher?

*This post has a follow-up post that will address some of the comments shared, do read the post here. 

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  1. I would question the teacher and ask her what is wrong. If it is a fairy tale then anything is possible. I personally wouldn’t mark it wrong..but will let him know what other answers there is for that question.
    Dominique goh´s last blog post ..Writer’s Workshop: Right on to it

    Student Reply:

    I believe that the teacher would not have unreasonably marked it such way. It is probable that the students are doing such activities after reading a book. During my primary school time (which was very recent), we studied different books (STELLAR units) before proceeding on activities that relates to the books.
    Student´s last blog post ..A Fairy Tale Module in Primary 1?

    Alden Reply:

    It seems logical to get a student to read a book then answer the questions while referring back to the book, it would work in the later stage. Don’t forget this child is only starting primary school next year, which means she is only 6 years old.

  2. Welcome to formal education. There’s either a confrontational way to handle this or a conform and learn. I would pick my battles. Cos there are many more as the kids grow up
    Jiahui´s last blog post ..I Theatre Grimm’s Fairy Tales at Drama Centre 2013

  3. Personally, I find that the sentences are constructed right. As long as it is not from a passage where the kids need to comprehend. The teacher do not have to mark as incorrect since in fairy tales, anything is possible.

    Either the parents raised this issue up as it’s unfair to our kids. What if our kids are imaginative? The way they do it is killing off their creativity, so what’s going to happen to the next generation of writers, being the Gen Z?
    Ally´s last blog post ..What’s up?

  4. This is so wrong! Why was the teacher so inflexible? In this case, the child should not have been marked wrong. It makes me wonder if I should also start reading fairy tales to my kids, and soon too!
    Diana Gale´s last blog post ..blueberry cheesecake

  5. I would probably go down to speak with the teacher and HOD. Give them both the variations of the sentence, and asked if there’s anything wrong with the sentence in itself. If she tells me no, then I’ll question why my child got the answer marked wrong just because it’s not in the answer scheme. If the school prides themselves for being creative, and the teacher and HOD refuses to budge, I’ll definitely bring it to the principal’s attention. I will also stress that the answer scheme is written by a human being, mistakes may be made, and changes can be made to it as well.

    It’s not so much about being confrontation or anything, but personally, it’s about teaching the children that there is more than one way to doing everything. Not everything is a one-size-fit-all method. Even those one-size clothes don’t fit everyone.

    Sometimes, it’s not that the parents are becoming demanding (with all the fault being pinned on us recently), but some of the teachers really need some waking up from us.
    Mabel´s last blog post ..Blake is 3 : The Birthday Party

    Angela Reply:

    What if the teacher told you, “No, there’s nothing wrong with the sentence”, but it turned out that it’s not in the answer scheme because the question is a response to an event in a story?

    Dear Mabel, please be fair and consider that you may not know the full context before jumping the gun and deciding that the answer scheme must be wrong and therefore, if the school refuses to mark it right, they must be stifling the child’s creativity. This is the perfect example of an unreasonably demanding parent. Please wake up.

  6. Rachel, am sharing what I know. Every school’s EL curriculum is unique though they have a prescribed strategy – STELLAR- from MOE. Each school is given the autonomy to design their school-based curriculum and this school perhaps have this ‘Fairy tale’ module in place. I thought it’s good as the children will know the specific text type of a fairy tale from young and hopefully they also have twisted fairy tales in the other levels.

    Linguistically, I think there is nothing wrong with the sentence unless the instruction for the kid is to rearrange the words in a sentence based on the story. If this is the case, then it is quite a high-order thinking task for primary one students.

    I would talk to the teacher to clarify. :)

  7. Fairy tales have a motif and as a genre have certain predictable plots and characters. There will always be the element of magic and fantasy and some age-old themes like good vs evil and the happily-ever-after ending. Some tales were written to warn children and adults alike, with subtle messages hidden in the plot or through symbolic characterization.

    It is good for kids to be exposed to this genre as this will then allow them to get creative in their narrative/creative writing. How else can they twist the tale if they don’t know the genre and motifs well?

    So I say, there is a lot of value learning this genre as a theme or module in school. But I guess perhaps the assessment of the worksheet by the teacher could be more specific: was she assessing understanding in grammar or understanding the common narratives in a tale?
    Motherkao´s last blog post ..10 tips to survive Hongkong with small children

  8. I would probably ask the teacher why those answers are not acceptable. As a teacher, I wouldn’t have set such ambiguous questions in the first place.
    Angie @ Simply Mommie´s last blog post ..{Giveaway} I Theatre Grimm’s Fairy Tales 2013

  9. I’m writing a response post on this.

  10. I think I’d approach the teacher to clarify, since as you said, the answers are correct in themselves!
    Jus´s last blog post ..Friday Five: Great buys from Daiso

  11. Actually, I can somewhat sympathise with the teacher. Looking at the pencil marks alone, it seems to me that the child was guessing answers. There is a pencilled arrow redirecting the “snake” to after the word “the”, indicating that the child him/her self wasn’t sure about their own sentence construction. The problem, then, was that the child didn’t also redirect “handsome prince”, so when read with the child’s ‘correction’, the sentence would have been “The fairy godmother turned the snake handsome prince into a.” Therefore, the teacher was perfectly justified in marking that wrong. (Although the teacher’s own correction of where the arrow pointing “snake” to was wrong…)

    As for the second sentence, why are there two sentences written by the child below the question? Either sentence is grammatically correct, but there are two possible interpretations of this: either the child is clever and playing / showing off by providing two alternative answers which are both correct, or that the child didn’t really know what they were doing and guessed by writing all the possible answers in hopes that one of them would be correct. Teachers being human, it’s possible that the child’s previous academic performance might incline the teacher to being biased against giving the child the benefit of the doubt.

    Sarah Reply:

    Hi Joshua,

    I’m assuming the arrow for the first question was put in AFTER the teacher drew the red circle around the word “snake”. Because the sentence would have been “The fairy godmother turned snake the into a handsome prince”. The child probably directed the word “snake” to the back of “the” so that the sentence structure was correct.

    As for the second question, the child wrote two sentences because the second one is a correction. Note the bracket at the bottom right.

    Appalled Reply:

    You shouldn’t sympathize with the teacher. It looks like the teacher had marked both wrong and made the child do corrections on the paper. Citing the child’s previous academic performance (assumingly poor) and using past performance to judge current performance is the worst form of behaviour.

    Marcus Reply:

    The pencil marks and additional sentence are obviously corrections done by the child post-marking.

    Cali Reply:

    Actually Joshua, the child was making the ‘corrections’ AFTER being told what the correct answers are. After the second qsn was where there was room to make full sentence corrections – and you can see that this correction was done AFTER marking, as the child skewed her sentence downwards to avoid the red bracket the teacher wrote – also an indication that the teacher was making for corrections to be made below the qsns…. While the first qsn with the teacher pointing the arrow to the wrong place was why the child re-corrected it with her arrow in pencil.

    In Primary one, they use pencil, not different coloured pens, so it is an assumption on your part to think that all the writing was done at the same time. If you went to Primary School here or had a child in Primary School, perhaps you would be more aware, than to say that it was the ‘child’s uncertainty’ in both cases.

  12. When I was in primary school, I personally questioned the teachers whenever I felt my answers or methods were correct, be they in English, Math or Science. Thankfully the teachers back in the 80s would accept my rationale and sometimes arguments and eventually give me my marks.

    I run a tuition centre now and have first hand experience of how rigid teachers have become. With my encouragement, when my students question their teachers, they are met with a stiff, immovable, “the answer scheme says so”.

    The teachers themselves seem too eager to meet somebody else’s KPI and have little interest in the genuine education of our children.

  13. In response to Joshua, I think it’s much more plausible that the arrow and extra sentence were added as corrections. I remember having to write the correct answers below when I was still in primary school. As for the arrow, I’d always end up correcting my teacher’s errors too.

  14. before you jump the gun, the photo you posted doesn’t even show what the question is. It might give out some clues.

    Logically, the fairy godmother (who is someone nice and kind) will not turn a handsome prince into a snake. If it was a witch, then the kid has a point.

    d Reply:

    erm maybe the prince was on an undercover mission and the fairy godmother was helping him. who knows?? be creative.

    teacher Reply:

    Right, it was a creative writing class. Apologies.

  15. These will be my support points for these answers to be correct:
    1. Fairy Godmother to Prince: “call me aunty one more time and i’ll turn you into a snake!”
    2. It doesn’t matter whether the castle is beautiful or not. But if it is built on a beautiful field, it will fetch a better price. Near famous Pri school better still.

  16. i would love to know which primary school this is, and avoid it like the plague. this is terrible!

    Angela Reply:

    I however, will try to find out if the question was supposed to be a response to a reading comprehension passage, or at least, why the child was marked wrong.

  17. On second viewing, this is an extremely problematic test question to pin down on an “answer scheme”.

    Consider the following answers:

    “The snake turned the fairy godmother into a handsome prince.”

    “The handsome prince turned the snake into a fairy godmother.”

    As far as grammar and sentence construction goes, absolutely faultless. And if put in context of a properly twisted story, easily proven sensible (prince found a wand, scared of snake, so turned him into a fairy godmother instead lor).

    Or how about this:

    “The castle on the green field was beautiful.”

    That brings the context back to what the teacher would deem as steretypically correct. But if this was not provided as an alternative in the answer scheme, what would be the course of action?

    Madeline Reply:

    Good alternatives! I was thinking of some of these alternatives myself, which is so true. I suppose traditionally, it’s always fairy godmothers with the wand..
    Madeline´s last blog post ..Rolling Hills Far Far Away

  18. Yes it’s a sad thing that Singapore’s education system has become like this. Teachers no longer have the freedom to give a child a correct answer because they fear backlash from their own bosses. Teaching has become a money-job, and no longer a passion for passing on knowledge.

    Personally, the sentences I would create from those would be:

    “The handsome snake turned the fairy godmother into a prince.”
    “The green Castle Beautiful was on the field.”

    Luckily I escaped to Australia for my degree education.

    Chloe Reply:

    Your comment is sad to read. Show it to any teachers and the first feeling they would feel is disappointment.

    I am a teacher and I would stand by all my principles to say that teaching as a money-job is not true, at least for the majority. And honestly, we would make more money working in the private education sector, and hence it would totally overthrow your conclusion about teaching as a money-job.

    Many teachers come into the teaching industry with a lot of passion to nurture children. However, it is the general negative public that really pull us down. Our job is not the easiest and we are not expecting approval or sympathy from everyone – all we want is just the basic respect from people who doesn’t specialize in teaching to understand that teachers are humans, we make mistakes sometimes, just like how your teacher forgave all your mistakes when you were a student.

    Our bosses are teachers too and they would understand our predicament, and would definitely stand by us as well as the pupils if such answers are really acceptable.

    And more importantly, I don’t know how you managed to conclude that Australia teachers work for passion and not for money. I’m sorry to say this but.. it’s a really shallow generalization you have there.

  19. “Meet the teacher, and explain my view on why this answer should be marked as correct. However, this will be dependent on whether I have already sized up the teacher to find out more about her personality. If she is open and accommodating to parental feedback, she might feel a little apologetic and then change her marking on the paper. Or if the teacher is by-the-book and inflexible, my child might get unnecessary attention amongst the 29 other kids in class or just get ignored eventually.”

    Pardon me if I sound confrontational, however I see something slightly askew about this:
    1- Make myself an arbitrator of what a correct answer should be (though the teacher might have set the paper and questions, she should not have expectations of what the correct answer should be, as long as it is grammatically correct, and does not have unsound logic)
    2- However my view will be influenced by how I think the teacher should behaved
    3- Make myself an arbitrator of what the appropriate behaviour should be for the teacher “open and accomodating”, “apologetic” = acceptable, standing by his/her marking = “by the book and inflexible”.
    4. That the teacher was somehow conforming to a ‘politically-correct’ form of fairy tales, and unfairly penalising the student for being non-conformist.

    “2. Explain to child that conformity is part of societal expectations, model answers and behavior is needed to get approval from teachers and school. However, share with child that his answer is correct according to English language structure and rules. And continue to encourage creativity in modules of creative writing, problem solving and life in general, apart from school.”

    Your point is the answer to your dilemma, creativity can be specifically encouraged in modules such as creative writing, problem-solving and life-skills. In other words, while creativity is important, it does not always entail going against established rules or what you call “model answers and behaviour”. Art flourishes within the confines of a frame, and some would argue that the frame is what gives a painting definition. In short I do not believe in a creativity for the sake of going against norms, and that conforming to certain expectations will always strangle displays of creativity.

    I’m generalising here, however the zeitgeist of current generation of young parents seem to promote a view that being a non-conformist is positive as opposed to being a rigid and inflexible non-conformist. Teaching children that they should always strive to break out of a mould/peg, and that creativity should always be encouraged over what can be seen as formalised education systems and inflexible educators.

    Not many are trained educators, though many have an opinion or two on what constitutes excellent pedagogy.

    Have you given thought to the teacher’s point of view in this case? Something that is valid, whether or not you agree with it.
    Teachers are not always unfeeling markers of our child’s papers. I believe most of them want to give their best to the children, while also trying to get them to succeed in the education system. There are limits and restraints they have to work around, teaching model behaviours while also trying to encourage creativity. You ask what we would do if our child faces this case. I will not insist on the teacher marking it as correct, there are battles and there are lessons, and there are ways that my child can learn independence. I will trust the teacher to do his/her job, while I also do mine as a parent — not to find faults/flaws in the system, but to work in partnership.

    I will help my child understand that education is a privilege, not an entitlement, that education doesn’t stop in school, but is all around. That we need to have respect for certain rules and structures, even if they seem to be rigid. That progress isn’t always about deconstructing the system.

    I want Ah Boy and Ah Girl to know, sometimes it is ok to not have extra attention from the teacher, sometimes it’s ok that things seem a little unfair. Sometimes it’s ok to be a square peg. Sometimes it’s ok to be frustrated. If they can and should, they should, if they can’t and shouldn’t, then they accept and let go, learn from it and be stronger for it.

    What I think is creativity in this case? Answering as the model answer is, while knowing he can create his own tales somewhere else. In short, knowing how to be adaptable, flexible and when is it appropriate or not.

    Clement Reply:

    excellent thoughts, sir/mdm.

    Charlene Smith Reply:

    Well said.

  20. Good points and reminder to me as a teacher. I think it will be good to check if there’s a contextual component to the lesson. If the story was taught in the class, then it is not wrong for the teacher to mark like that.

    If there is no contextual lessons, then the answer to the castle on the green field is perfectly acceptable. However, turning handsome princes into animals doesnt sound like sonething a fairy godmother does so I wouldnt protest too much to that answer because children need to understand the characterization as well. :)

  21. If this happen to my daughter when she goes to primary school next year, I will write a note and ask my daughter to pass to her teacher. The note will go like this “There are many answers to a question, just like there are many ways I could destroy your teaching career. Call me, if you need a discussion.”

    Ming Reply:

    You sound like an evil nasty witch

    Horrified Reply:

    I would reply back to you and say, “Now I have evidence of you threatening me, when I was just trying to do my job. See you in court.”

    Chloe Reply:

    First, why would you even want to do something so mean, and secondly, allow your daughter to see it and hence think such behavior is acceptable?

    Sigh Reply:

    It’s due to parents like you that people no longer wants to be teachers.

    Cal Reply:

    A truly reprehensible comment that you’ve made – you obviously have a deep-seated grudge to bear against educators – perhaps from your own childhood experience… pray that you don’t have to face such nasty threats from people in your line of work.

    Brudder Reply:

    Cindy, you sound like a horrible person. I hope your daughter will not grow up to become like you.

    ling Reply:

    Personal perspective from a teacher here:

    You, Cindy, destroy my teaching career? Really? Your arrogance knows no bounds- do you seriously think that such a small thing will destroy a teacher’s career? Frankly, in the staff room, we just laugh at your idiocy, your arrogance and your self entitledness, and move on. And of course, we will report this as workplace harassment, where you can be sued. Do remember that the school leadership is also comprised of teachers who have become school leaders- your nonsense will not be tolerated in schools and in the upper levels of MOE.

    I hope your daughter grows up to be a good, reasonable person despite having you as a mother. Then again, it’s not too hard to be nicer and more reasonable than a nasty piece of work like you.

  22. “the snake turned the fairy godmother into a handsome prince”

    nuff said

  23. Think different!

    The Snake turned the fairy godmother into a handsome prince

    Yoda: Beautiful was the castle on the green field.

    On the green field, the castle was beautiful.

    The green castle was beautiful on the field.

    The beautiful green castle was on the field?

    Was the castle on the beautiful green field?

    The castle on the green field? Beautiful!

    The castle field was beautiful on the green (I guess that’s something golfers would say)

    “The beautiful green field was on the castle.”

    Support the green movement: plant greenery on the roof…};-)

    The handsome Snake Prince turned into the Fairy Godmother A. – that’s the most outrageous one I can think of.

  24. Evil queens turn royalty into animals…. This teacher needs a lesson in fairy tale.

    Anyway I am well versed in fairy tales and have never heard of any “beautiful castle” nor ANY fairy godmother turning any prince into a SNAKE?

    How is a P1student expected to pass the “guess-what-pot-the -teacher-is-smoking” exam?

    Joanne Reply:

    Well…maybe it’s a twist on The Princess and the Frog. I mean if a fairy godmother can turn a prince into an amphibian why not a reptile, right.

  25. The castle question is indeed unreasonable. The sentence of the candidate is grammatically and structurally sound so….dubious marking there, i would definitely take it up with the teacher.

    However, I think that it is quite ambiguous for question 1. While i agree that from your point of view, to expect knowledge of fairytales is seemingly unreasonable, such convention should be noted, and is applicable especially in academia, for example in lit where some authors subvert the norm! :)

  26. Forget about the teacher, they change every year. Focus on the child. Tell him or her why he can be correct and why others might think that he is wrong. As much as some of us like to criticize the education system, most of us still want our children to excel in this ‘system’, as seen from the insistence that the child is right in the assignment. It’s irony to see that the parents criticizing the conformity of the system, while they’re ‘conformed’ to make sure the child made it in this system. Give it a break, let it go. The child doesn’t have to be right all the time.

  27. You are right. Her answers should be acceptable. If the teacher/school wants certain fixed answers, then the question stem should not be so open. Are the items testing grammatical structures or facts from fairy tales or stories?

    If the items are set the way they are, then those are acceptable answers.

  28. Ehhh well while there is no grammatical or spelling errors, the meaning of the words are kind of twisted. Assuming that there is no sarcasm or hidden meaning etc etc, why would a fairy godmother, the imagery of a magical guardian angel turn a prince into a snake…. sounds more like a witch to me. And while beautiful is subjective, I’m kind of hard pressed to find a beautiful green field….. seriously it must be from Eden to invoke a pleasing sensation aesthetically. Yes, this might be restrictive as there will be only one answer to each question. But the meaning behind individual words are important, if you can’t say what you mean, you can’t mean what you say.

  29. I’m homeschooling the kids through Kindergarten, partly to allow them creativity and not having to conform unnecessarily at a young age. If this happens to my child when he’s in Pri 1, I’d probably not raise it up to the teacher. If I need to raise such matters to the teachers for every subject and for 3 children, it’d take too much time and effort.

    I’d go for option #2: let him know that model answers show only one perspective. He can always be creative in other ways while being test/exam-smart when needed. He may not understand this at P1, but over time, he’ll be able to see that there’re always people who are “too straight” and learn to work around them.

    Also, there’re some children who will stand up to their thoughts. If mine is like that and wishes to “argue” his point across to the teacher, I’ll let him be and see if he can convince the teacher.

    There’re more lessons to learn than simply getting the answers right.
    MieVee @ MummysHomeschool.com´s last blog post ..[Tutorial] Speed Reading: How to increase playback speed of audio files

  30. hi Rachel,

    I have met teachers who wish to do more, but are discouraged by HOD’s reasoning of “School curriculum first”.

    My kids have their fair share of good and bias teachers, we try our best to work with the teachers, find a common ground.

    Every often, we find parents reminding their kids to conform to school-marking standards in order to perform (I am guilty too).

    Only when teacher-parent-child work together, can the child benefit from a more holistic learning experience.

    Not everything needs to be in “Black or White”, I am telling my kids that Gray is totally acceptable.

    andy (SengkangBabies)

  31. Ermmm can I say something; dear parent, if you put yourself in this fairy tale and I’m sure there is something wrong with the child’s answer as written; the fairy godmother turn the handsome prince into a snake. Imagine how can a fairy godmother would turn the handsome prince into a snake? Think twice and put yourself in this fairy tale’s content and summaries before any conclusion had been made.

    Lastly, how can you construct a castle onto a beautiful green grass where as is just a pieces of grass (land)? Imagine a beautiful building was being constructed onto a concrete likewise is the same sentence as what the teacher trying to elaborating by telling the child the answer was wrong; it should be ” the beautiful castle was on the green field” as in built on the pieces of land (green grass).

    Do correct me if I’m wrong. I just felt something was really wrong with the answer which given by the child.


    Katherine Reply:

    I would admit that the first… well, the child is imaginative. But in a fairy tale context, it is unlikely to happen.

    But the second is perfectly logical in my opinion. I mean, people use the word ‘beautiful’ to describe many things. Beautiful blue sky, beautiful people, beautiful car, so why not beautiful green fields?

    Beautiful green fields do exist. There are fields that stretches on for miles and miles where all you can see are grass in various shades of green. Why can’t the word ‘beautiful’ be used in that context?

    And if you really want to get technical, using the word ‘majestic’ for the castle would be a lot more appropriate. It would also remove the ambiguous nature of the word ‘beautiful’ which could be used to describe both the castle and the fields.

    what? Reply:

    I really don’t get what you are trying to say. The fairy godmother can turn a snake into a prince, but not vice versa? Why is that not plausible option in your eyes? I think there are many fairy tales where there is an evil fairy godmother turning princes into frogs waiting for a kiss to change them back.

    Your second paragraph on the green grass simply dumbfounds me. I have no idea what you are even trying to say there.

    I really really hope you are not a teacher!

    Xuan Reply:

    There’s always http://www.dictionary.com if u are dumbfounded or flabbergasted with big words.

    Teacher so wad? Not teacher so wad? Just like not everyone who speaks Chinese is prc, not everyone who defends this post is a teacher. Stop being such a simpleton.

  32. Lim Lihong Idris says:

    I will send the child to study in USA definitely

  33. That’s why when they say we are encouraging creative thinking, I go yeah right, “Creative thinking, my A**”. All they want is THE right answer.
    Susan´s last blog post ..Grimm’s Fairy Tales {Tickets Giveaway}

    Cal Reply:

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss their intent with a swipe of your magic “a** wipe”. There’s room for creativity and there’s room for improvement when it comes to a rational phrasing of answers based on the given context.

  34. Christopher Yip says:

    I’m agreeing with the teacher. If the child knows who a fairy godmother is, the child would know the teacher’s answer is correct.

    The child’s answer would be correct if it was a witch instead. The witch turned the handsome prince into a snake. Witches by definition are evil; fairy godmothers by definition is good. No need to know Snow White and the seven dwarfs, etc.

    It’s understanding the meaning of words, then putting them in an order that makes meaning. After all, communication is about getting your meaning across.

  35. In Beauty and the Beast, a fairy/ enchantress had indeed turned the prince into a beast. #justsaying
    Madeleine´s last blog post ..5 Most Attractive Traits – Ji Inn’s

    Christopher Yip Reply:

    We learn about exceptions as we get older but at P1 we start with the general.

  36. http://hexacoto.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/learning-politically-correct-fairy-tales/

    Should your child encounter such as situation, I hope you’d do the right thing and never just settle for option two:

    2. Explain to child that conformity is part of societal expectations, model answers and behavior is needed to get approval from teachers and school. However, share with child that his answer is correct according to English language structure and rules. And continue to encourage creativity in modules of creative writing, problem solving and life in general, apart from school.

    Not confronting the teacher and letting the issue slide does more harm than good. Would the teacher continue marking every prince that has been turned into a snake as incorrect? Then, telling a child that conformity is what is needed in society is just as harmful — this tells the child that deviance isn’t accepted in our society, be it good or bad. How is having the child cripple himself to fit our society’s narrow-minded confines going to be useful in the future?

    How would this blogger react if the child grows up expressing views that are deviant from societal norms? What if he grows up wanting to study the humanities, or wants to become a chef, or turns out to be homosexual, or decides that he wants to become a fashion designer — all outcomes that do not conform to the Singaporean norm. What then? Would the parent still tell the child that he or she is still expected to conform? Where does one draw the line?

    Not only should the child know that his answer is perfectly acceptable, he or she should be encouraged to make more of such creative sentences. Why stop at the fairy godmother turning the prince into a snake? How about a snake turning a fairy godmother into a snake? The parent could even engage the child’s artistic faculties by asking the child to imagine how something like that could happen, and make an illustration! Take the opportunity to turn such an event into a way for a child to exercise his or her creative juices.

    I drew a picture for your friend’s child.
    Shaun´s last blog post ..Learning politically-correct fairy tales

  37. I can’t believe the comments I’m reading here. This is an article created with malicious intent. What was the question? We do not know. Even if the answer in correct after we understand the full context of the situation, did the parent go to clarify whether the teacher made an honest mistake? Did anyone ask the child what he or she meant to say? What if he or she was trying to actually say the godmother turned the snake into a prince? What about the child’s responses to previous questions? Perhaps they were incorrect too, giving a clue as to what the child was thinking?So many comments here seem quick to jump on the bandwagon, with assumptions on the context behind the story, but nobody bothered to scrutinize the article. It’s just another flimsy story meant to thrash the system.

    As for corrections, the teacher did not ‘force’ the correction upon the child, but instead probably told the whole class what the correct answer was, and they all copied it down. Seriously, if you want to rant about our education system or a teacher just because of one incorrect answer, I feel you are being ridiculous. We really have a world-class education system that other countries are trying to emulate. Sure, it can be improved, but which system is perfect?

    And based on this one picture, with no context, you’re jumping to conclusions about primary school education. That is one way to teach your kids about open-mindedness and creativity.

  38. While it’s good to take a keen interest in our children’s learning and be proactive on behalf of them, I do detect a hint of overprotective-parenting here. Based on some of the comments here, it seems like there are quite few people here with angst against educators when they should be working together for the good of the child.
    In my opinion, the correction of the first sentence has nothing to do with ‘political correctness’, I suspect that the answer demonstrates the lack of maturity in grasping the concept of a fairy godmother vs a wicked witch in the context of a fairy tale – but before we jump to that conclusion, we need to interview this child to see for ourselves if indeed he intended for a mischievous answer (then we can rest assure that he makes the mark) or that he was truly confused (thereby confirming my suspicion).
    Now, as for the second sentence – I have issues with the choice of words given by the setter, because instead of “on the”, it should have been “on a”. So, the acceptable answers could have been either “The castle was on a beautiful green field.” or “The beautiful castle was on a green field.”, depending on where the child wanted to bestow the emphasis of beauty upon – more importantly: does the child know the difference!!
    Dear parents, please don’t just ‘jump the gun’ and blame the teachers in defence of your child without first establishing the truths or half-truths. As we appeal for our educators to reflect in their practice, let us do our part too.

  39. The teacher might have sat down with the student and explained that the sentences were gramatically correct, but could not give him or her the mark as they need to show knowledge of the different genres. To judge the teacher without knowing the full story is to be as ‘guilty’ as the teacher is accused of.

  40. I don’t think the education system is at fault for comatosing the creativities of our children. Actually, more than not, I think it’s the fault of the parents. They’re the ones who want the A’s, they’re the ones who provide ‘market demand’ in a transactional system between school as a business provider and themselves as a client. Their market demand, and overwhelmingly their priority is to get their damned A’s and be gone. whereas increasingly, I see a lot of good initiatives coming down from the top at MOE, but all getting stuck in the middle because the poor teachers have no choice but to listen to the parents’ demands and get them their A’s otherwise parents will give teachers a hard time. Or, if a school is particularly known for not producing A students, parents won’t want to send their kids there.

    And this persists after we scrap the official school ranking system…. parents basically come up with their own unofficial ranking system just to continue fulfilling that purpose. *shrugs* As part of a collective of parents, I don’t think the writer of this blog deserves any right to blame the teacher, because really as I see it, the fault really lies with the parental collective – if the mentality of parents don’t change, our system will remain this way, no matter how good our teachers are and no matter how much the guys on top dish down good initiatives. Cuz at the end of the day teachers on the ground cannot abandon their bread and butter of survival, and parents are the ones who make that happen.

  41. Just had a chance to read this. I would first find out what the question asked for. Was it a test of the child’s understanding of the passage (i.e. the fairy tale). If it was, the skill needed would be comprehension and understanding. Was the question a test of the child’s ability to re-arrange the words to form a grammatically correct sentence? In this case, the skill needed would be grammar and syntax. If it’s the latter, I don’t agree that the child should be penalised as both sentences are perfectly grammatical. Teachers do mark according to a ‘marking scheme’ but most do welcome other possibilities of answering a question (or so I hope!).
    Angie´s last blog post ..Mid-Autumn Festival at The Gardens By the Bay!

  42. Just my two cents on the matter, as an English teacher, in defense of the teaching fraternity…

    Initially, when I saw the picture, I was also quite befuddled by how the marking was done, and frankly amused by the answers given. If this were a grammar exercise, I believe most English teachers would not have marked it wrong, UNLESS the exercise specifically referred to passages.

    What looks like a grammar exercise could have been a creative attempt at crafting reading comprehension questions to test both understanding and grammar — we won’t really know unless we took a look at the paper, or spoke to the teacher. After all, as teachers, we are also looking to develop the child in multiple skills, as tasks in real life require them to do. This is all part of NOT teaching them to be square pegs – to teach them that there may always be more than meets the eye.

    I think that educators and parents should always work hand-in-hand for the welfare of the child, and any form of mistrust can and will undermine either’s education. In this case, should a situation like this happen, I highly urge you to encourage your child to clarify with the teacher why a grammatically correct statement was marked as wrong. It would also be a good example of critical thinking.

    As a final note, I think that expecting the teacher “if she is open to parental feedback” to “feel apologetic” and “change her marking” already presumes that she is in the wrong without clarifying the issue is not being fair to the teacher, and if such sentiments are passed on to the child, the child may learn to disrespect and distrust his/her teacher (with the support of his/her parents, too), which will definitely diminish the effectiveness of his/her education in the long term.

  43. As a parent of a rambunctious 8 year old boy, the most worrying thing for me, is that I can see the feminized Singapore education system killing his spirit, making him conform stupidly, questioning less and taking the teacher’s word as the gospel truth. It’s unfortunate, teachers could be made of better stuff instead of being the unique collection of typical characters we see today as teachers.

    As I child, I looked for any opportunity to do something different. I looked out for a shortage of rules – like if the above question we were given free rein, and even knowing full well what the teacher wanted, I would try to construct a sentence just for the sake of coolness “The castle on the green field? Beautiful!”.

    I highly encourage my child to do so. But it’s difficult, for the entire force of older teachers and a system is against him. It’s those whiny ugly girls who are compliant and snitchy and bitchy (think a girl Brainy Smurf) who succeed, both in school and in today’s corporates. Ahahahahahahaha …. never mind. I have faith in my genes.

    flyingbobo Reply:

    compliant and snitchy have diametrically opposed meanings. I dont quite have as much faith as u do.

  44. ANGRY PERSON says:

    Wrong person for the job? or is this simply the result of a system that educated based on only 1 right answer? Teachers were students themselves, but the education system in sg stymies creative thinking. I feel the teacher was in fact a victim of this effect:(

  45. i love beautiful green fields.

  46. Ultimately I guess ether you die a liberal student or you live long enough to become a Singaporean

  47. And we wonder why we lack creativity and imagination.

  48. Wow… So many debates going on.. But I guess it all boils down to the purest form: ENGLISH lesson.

  49. Mark Rozells says:

    I teach English Literature in an IB school in Singapore. There’s nothing grammatically or logically wrong with the child’s answers and it would be good if parents had a chat with the teacher. To keep quiet and tell our children to just to accept it would be to teach them to bow unquestioningly to authority. It’s good to dialogue. Teachers and schools are not perfect, we can always do better.

  50. Hi there,

    I suppose I am probably a tad late to the conversation, but in case you did not get a closure on this issue, I would like to offer my two cents worth.

    First and foremost, I agree that the two sentences are linguistically accurate, perhaps an additional comma in the second sentence separating the two adjectives would help.

    In the first sentence, the rationale for not accepting the child’s answer would come from the assumed prior knowledge that fairy godmothers do not turn people into snakes, witches do.

    In the second sentence, the adjective of ‘beautiful’ is more suited to describe the castle and likewise ‘green’ would be more suited to describe the fields. However, my best guess as to why the teacher insisted on following the ‘matching adjectives’ would be that at this stage, pupils would not have been exposed to two adjectives used to describe one noun. The only addition that I would make to that sentence would be to add a comma between the two adjectives.

    I really hope that the teacher had explained the rationale of her marking and not discourage the child from forming creative sentences.

    I hope my explanation helps :)