A lazy afternoon about ten years back, I was relaxing having finished all my work. I was expecting my junior Martian home any minute. The school year-ending exams were going on. That particular day he had a test in Science. Soon he bounds into the room I was in, as is his habit on his return from school.
“How was your exam?” I inquire, the stock question most moms ask of their children who return after giving an exam.
“It went well” he replies.
“That’s nice!” I smile, relieved.
“I am hungry!!” he says, changing the subject. So what’s new! I get up to go to the kitchen to give him his lunch.
Out of the blue he asks me,
“Amma, what is ‘genitals’?”
Hmm…. That’s an easy one to answer. But what brought on the question out of the blue, I wonder for a second.
Before I can answer him, he quips,
“It’s there in my science question paper…”
In the science question paper?! Now I am confused. I know that they do not have anything about genitals in their syllabus for his grade. So how could it make its appearance in the question paper?
“How many genitals are there…” he reads out from the question paper.
What?? What was that again?! Did I just hear ‘how many genitals’?!!
I snatch the question paper from him to read for myself.
“I did not know the answer to that one question, so I left it unanswered.” he tells me gloomily.
I glance at the paper. There it is,
“How many genitals are there in a metric tonne??”
What the heck!
I am actually somewhat amused, and yet annoyed too. Was this a printing mistake or a deliberate practical joke by the people where the printing of the question paper had been done? Be it either, what were the teachers or the authorities of the school doing? Had they not checked the question paper before distributing them to the children? And finally, why had no teacher come forward to correct the mistake at least on the day the children were giving the exam? Negligence and carelessness are not qualities that should go with teaching or even a school as a whole. This was sheer laxity on their part.
When the L&M comes home, I present the evidence of the screw up. He rules out publicity of any sort and takes away the question paper from me. He would look into it, he says. I tell him I want the paper back as I have plans of writing to the Readers Digest column. This is just the kind of funny bites they include in their magazine. The L&M visits the school and discreetly points out the mistake. But how can you leave it at that, I ask him. You should have taken them to task for their negligence. Couldn’t they have told the kids about the error in time? What were they doing? By the way, did they even know there was one? How many genitals, indeed. Pah!
Psst. After that outburst, I never got to lay my hands on the question paper. As for the junior son, I promptly apprised him of facts: A metric tonne had no genitals, only quintals.
Reposted from shail-mohan blogs @ sulekha.com
i have read this before…but stilll….
>>>>>>>>What?? What was that again?? Did he just read how many ‘genitals’??<<<<<<<ayooooooooo enikku vayya…..enikku vayyaye.e…..eeee!!!!
God!!!! dont they read question papers and correct printing mistakes???
i suspect this was a practical joke…if they meant “quintals” and “q” was read as “g” it should have been “guintals” and NOT “genitals”… this was surely a practical joke!!!!
Iv seen bigger mistakes from our university people.Any
girl with lastname like rao or dsouza was a male to them n wrote gender as male.Atleast some student should have asked the question,it would have been rectified
Swathi, it is their duty to read and correct mistakes if any in the question paper at least on the day of the test. It was very very lax of the school and the teacher concerned to let this happen. Someone played a practical joke and the school just let it happen!! Unbelievable and appalling.
Lahari, yeah IF some student (10-11 year olds) asked the question it would have been corrected. But is that the way a school should function?? Changing of gender in forms though in no way minor, falls into a different category altogether and is not comparable to this, is what I feel.
It’s a shame that the teachers failed to go through the paper before distributing. It sure sounds a practical joke. But, we can’t blame them (the printers) as it IS the duty of the teacher to correct it. What a shame!!!
Something to recount to my colleagues…..
Bubbly, indeed it IS a shame that the teachers let this happen. It is their duty to check what is printed and to take the printers to task if they made a mistake, a glaring and uncalled for one like this.
Anjali, I know as a teacher this is something you can share with your colleagues. 🙂