Schoolgirl Praised for Funny Answer to Incorrect Homework Question

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. glaring / ˈglɛər ɪŋ / (adj) – very obvious

    The document contained a lot of glaring errors.

  2. subtraction / səbˈtræk ʃən / (n) – the mathematical operation of finding the difference between two numbers (e.g. 3-2=1)

    My younger cousin is having trouble learning subtraction.

  3. blunt / blʌnt / (adj) – saying something in a very direct way

    Her blunt words hurt my feelings.

  4. poke fun at (someone/something) / poʊk fʌn æt / (idiom) – to tease or make jokes about someone or something, often in a bad way

    Harry’s friends poked fun at his new haircut.

  5. proofread / ˈprufˌrid / (v) – to read something to find and correct mistakes

    The document was proofread twice, but it still has some errors.


Read the text below.

A schoolgirl was praised online for her response to homework that contained a glaring error.

Elementary student Myrah’s math homework was a series of simple addition and subtraction word problems. Myrah was able to answer most of them with ease, but one problem left her confused. It said, “Jane has 12 crayons, and Kim has seven crayons. How many more crayons does Susan have than Kim?” While most people would simply subtract seven from 12 and answer “5,” the schoolgirl wrote on her homework, “Who is Susan?”

Myrah’s answer to her homework became popular after her parents shared a photo of it online. People loved her blunt answer.

Some even pointed out the confusing phrasing in several of the other questions. One of the items read, “There are eight fish in a pond. Seven fish swam away. How many are left in the pond?” Supposedly, the answer was one, but a user explained that even if the fish swam away, they were all still in the same pond.

People also criticized another question, which said, “There are eight birds on a branch. There are three birds on another branch. How many birds are in the tree?” According to them, it was unclear if the branches all belonged to the same tree. Several people also poked fun at Myrah’s teacher, commenting that he or she obviously did not proofread the homework questions.

However, one user defended the teacher, explaining that mistakes are hard to avoid when writing homework questions because a teacher’s job is very tiring.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the questions in Myrah’s homework need to be revised? Why or why not?
• If you were a teacher, how would you respond to Myrah’s answer (e.g. apologize for the mistake, take off points for not being serious)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Is it easy to point out errors/mistakes to teachers in your country? Why or why not?
• Do you think it’s possible for a teacher to completely avoid errors when making students’ homework? Why or why not?