The Fifth Column

26th MAy 1996

Figures need to change

"Thaaththa" Bindu Udagedera asked, "How much is 96 minus 40"

"The answer to that" Bindu's father, Percy said, "Depends on who you are...."

"Why do you say that?"

"The correct answer is 56; but sometimes even 52 or 50 is acceptable...."

"I don't understand, Thaaththa" Bindu said, puzzled. "What answer should I write for my homework...."

"You should write 56" Percy advised; "But even if you write 52 or 50, they should be able to overlook you and pass you...."


"Because if you are good enough, they will ignore such small mistakes you make...."

"But Thaaththa" Bindu protested, "if 56 is the correct answer, then 52 and 50 are wrong answers...."

"Yes" Percy agreed.

"But Thaaththa", Bindu was puzzled, "if 52 and 50 are wrong answers, shouldn't those who write those answers be penalised in some way?"

"I hope so" Percy said. "I hope they will be properly penalised some day. There is no point penalising them substantially...."

"I don't understand" Bindu said.

"Neither do I' said Percy. "But why don't you get on with your homework?"

We have to study a poem, Thaaththa...." Bindu said.

"Ah, let's see" said Percy. "What's this poem....?"

"It's by Laurence Binyon...."

"Let's hear you read it.... "Percy likes poems.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left, grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we shall remember them."

"A lovely appropriate poem" Percy said; "And yes, we shall certainly remember them".

Bindu wondered why his father was smiling and stroking his chin vigorously when he said that.

Go to Taraki's column

Return to the Editorial/Opinion contents page

Go to the Fifth Column Archive