This one came up on my daughter’s maths test yesterday. Please have a go at answering, and show your working.

A school buys skipping ropes for their five classes. Each class contains 9 pupils.
How many skipping ropes does the school have to buy?

That is a pretty vague question. Are the skipping ropes for individuals? If so you need to give each student a skipping rope which would be 9 pupils x 5 classes which is 45 skipping ropes. If they are for more thatn one individual you would assume you need 3 pupils per skipping rope. 2 on each end and one doing the skipping so that would make it 9 pupils divided by 3 per rope which is 3 skipping ropes per class which makes it 3 ropes x 5 classes which is 15 skipping ropes.
I bet I am wrong.

Mmm, this is only grade 2 (8 yr olds), you’re getting too metaphysical there.

It’s a simple question, 1 rope per kid. How many ropes in total?

Hmmmm so 9 pupils x 5 classes = 45 skipping ropes

Depends on when they plan to use it and how.

[quote=“Nuit”]Mmm, this is only grade 2 (8 yr olds), you’re getting too metaphysical there.

It’s a simple question, 1 rope per kid. How many ropes in total?[/quote]

You didn’t mention that at first.

It’s a shit question. It basically tells the kid: don’t think too much. Educators who make up stuff like this ought to be sent to the countryside for reeducuation.

The correct answer could be any of:

9, since P.E. classes rarely run at the same time.
3, if kids play with the ropes in groups of three.
6, if they’re doing that double-rope thing.
1, if they have other equipment to play with and only one kid needs the skipping rope at any one time. Or if the school is in North Korea.
20, because there’s a price break at 20 and skipping ropes always get lost or broken.
45, if the finance department are coming up to end-of-year and need to waste some gov’t cash.
176, if the school is in the Philippines and the Mayor is involved.

Ok, here’s my daughters answer -

She was docked 3 marks for being wrong. Why?

[quote=“Nuit”]Ok, here’s my daughters answer -

She was docked 3 marks for being wrong. Why?[/quote]

Perhaps they are being taught to format the multiplication in a certain way, for example (the red shows the carry).

[color=#FF0000]4[/color]
9
x 5
----------
4 5

Or perhaps they are being asked to show the working as cumulative addition.

9 + 9 - 18.
18 + 9 = 27
27 + 9 = 36
26 + 9 = 45

I mean the question asked to show the working, theres not a lot of working involved in 9 * 5. So what the hell was the teacher trying to teach?

edit/ Thats assuming its not a trick question and you’re supposed to add one for the teacher as well or something.

Perhaps because it’s not labeled: 5 classes X 9 ropes/class = 45 ropes.

That’s ridonculous. It is too vague. What is wrong with just doing normal timestables with these kids?

No-one’s right so far on the reason for mark deduction. It’s not the lack of labelling. And the answer my kid wrote down (45) is correct, it’s not a trick question.
But she did lose 3 marks for her working.

Keep going .

Hmmm so the right answer is 45 but it is not as simple as 9 x 5?

I now feel dumb if that is a question for an 8 year old

Not a lot left. We tried format, with 9 above 5 and answer below, tried labeling, tried cumulative addition, what was she supposed to do recite her times tables?

1 * 9 = 9
2 * 9 = 18
3 * 9 = 27
4 * 9 = 36
5 * 9 = 45

Give in. What was the reason for loosing 3 marks?

[quote=“Nuit”]Ok, here’s my daughters answer -

She was docked 3 marks for being wrong. Why?[/quote]

I’m going to guess that it’s either because they wanted her to write 9 x 5 instead of 5 x 9, or because she only wrote “ropes” instead of “skipping ropes”.

EDIT: From what you wrote above, it can’t be my second option.

Irishstu is on the money. The correct answer is ‘9 x 5 = 45. Answer: 45 ropes.’

Her answer was: [quote]5 x 9 = 45.[/quote]

According to Teacher Guang-Guang, the number of children has to come first, followed by the number of classes. But last time I checked, multiplication worked both ways . I’m having a hard job getting even my Taiwan-adjusted head around this one. So she lost 3 marks on that question, turning her 91% into an 88%, and dropping her into the remedial zone .

[quote=“Nuit”]Irishstu is on the money. The correct answer is ‘9 x 5 = 45. Answer: 45 ropes.’

Her answer was: [quote]5 x 9 = 45.[/quote]

According to Teacher Guang-Guang, the number of children has to come first, followed by the number of classes. But last time I checked, multiplication worked both ways . I’m having a hard job getting even my Taiwan-adjusted head around this one. So she lost 3 marks on that question, turning her 91% into an 88%, and dropping her into the remedial zone .[/quote]

Yeah, our kids get that too. It does my head in. I don’t see the logic behind it at all, but apparently it’s quite strictly taught here. Write a note to her teacher quoting “the commutative property of multiplication”, giving a link to some page or other (easy to find), then ask her to give you a link that says the order matters (I can’t find ANYTHING). Your daughter probably won’t get her 3 marks back, but at least you’ll get some satisfaction out of annoying the teacher.

Is this a bilingual class or straight Chinese?

OK, according to my colleague, here’s the logic behind it:

Firstly you have to look at what the final answer is really counting. In this case it’s basically telling you how many students there are. Since “how many students” is the most important thing, then you start with how many students there are in each class (9), and then you multiply that by how many multiples of that there are (5), so it ends up being 9 (students) x 5 = 45 (students, so therefore skipping ropes)

Anyway, I then asked her if it was two skipping ropes per student, where would she put the 2. She reckons that would come first, but wasn’t 100% sure.

She also said this is very much a Taiwanese/Chinese thing.

It’s straight local guo-xiao. I had no idea this was taught.

I could understand if she’d written ‘5 kids x 9 classes’ or something. But the kid got it right. Or rather, got nothing wrong. Worst of all, she’s backing her teacher over me.
Don’t see how teaching this can be of any benefit to anyone.

I could argue a good case for ‘how many classes’ is the most important thing .

It’s stupid meaningless shit like this that erodes children’s confidence, needlessly frustrates and turns kids off from learning a particular subject.