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Third-grader who’s too smart for his own good gets science test question wrong for very dumb reason.

As the head of Japanese marketing for multinational tech company Juniper Networks, it’s probably safe to assume that Wataru Katsurashima is not a dumb guy. It also looks like he’s passed on a penchant for rational thought to his son, who’s now in elementary school.

However, it’s a bit harder to get behind the logic displayed by the third-grade boy’s teacher, as shown in a snapshot Katsurashima recently tweeted of his son’s science test.

The question, written in black text next to the numeral 3, asks:

“Why do the directions of shadows change as time passes?”

That seems like a reasonable concept to expect third-graders, after proper instruction, to be able to understand. As proof, consider the answer written by Katsurashima’s son in black text inside the blue box, which reads:

“Because the earth rotates.”

Pretty solid answer, right? Well, not according to the kid’s teacher, who marked the response as incorrect. According to the educator, the correct answer is:

“Because the sun moves.”

That’s not an entirely baseless way of looking at things, since shadows change direction as the sun’s position in the sky changes from east to west during the day. However, what we perceive as the sun changing locations is actually the result of the observer’s position on Earth spinning away from the sun. Describing that as the sun “moving” suggests a less-than-complete understanding of the phenomenon, but it turns out that’s exactly the level of knowledge the teacher was looking for, since when correcting the test he added the instruction:

“Let’s answer using the things we learned in class.”

The problem wasn’t that Katsurashima’s son’s answer was wrong, but that it incorporated information that his teacher hadn’t covered yet, specifically the rotation of the earth.

“I think the teacher is handling this the wrong way,” tweeted Katsurahima, and it’s easy to sympathize with the frustrated father. In the teacher’s defense, educators often have their hands tied by curriculums and grading policies beyond their control. Whether calling the boy’s answer unacceptable was his decision or that of some higher authority, though, it seems to be sending the wrong message to a child with the intelligence to go beyond the bare minimum in his pursuit of greater knowledge.

Source: Jin
Top image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he always thought shadows moved because of ninja.