Matt — Creativity is certainly to be encouraged, but creativity is not mis-understanding and misusing the fundamentals of math. If the teacher had taught (correctly) that the number of operations is on the left, then the answers given by the student are incorrect. The two examples that are causing so much upset just happen to come out the same result…

There’s a big difference between giving 3 people 5 cookies each, rather than 5 people 3 cookies. Certain problems have no room for creativity, and require the patience and strategy to follow the rule exactly.