Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Horrible Math!

Heard of the series of books called "Horrible Science"? My boys love reading this series of books. Apart from the facts, they especially love the humor. On my end, I am putting together a compilation of Darling son KW's Math problems from school. I call the compilation "Horrible Math". However, there is no humor involved here. I know the teaching of Math in the woods is far from that back home, but I'm really disgusted at the way the problems are put together and the way they are being taught. If you are easily disgusted, do not continue reading. Else, let's proceed to go down the disgusting lane of Horrible Math!

Simple question, right? Find the area of the parallelogram. You know the formula to find area, you know your multiplication table, you can easily work it out. So what is the fuss about? Square Centimeters. We do not write the words when dealing with Math questions and numbers. Throughout the worksheet, I see the words "square meters" and "square feet". I'm a little disgusted, having to write down the notation throughout the worksheet and highlighting it to my son. Ok, the disgust is mild. Let's move on. Note that this is question number 3 on the worksheet.

Question Number 2 on the same page. A question that requires the students to do fraction multiplication. Did he learn that in school? No. It requires the kid to know how to convert the fractions to improper fractions, to know how to multiply, to divide, then convert from improper to proper fractions. So I had to spend some time teaching my boy all the above and let him do a few extra questions to make sure he really understood what was going on. The level of disgust definitely went up a notch. Not because I had to teach him, but I felt that the curriculum planning at school is poor!

What do you think of this? Question 4 on the same page. Yes, the kids learn lattice multiplication in school, a very different method from what they teach in Singapore schools. His teacher went through the normal way of multiplication, prior to giving them the worksheets. So the kids have a choice of using either method. Fine. But look closer. This is decimal multiplication, which they were not taught at all. So I spent another considerable amount of time revising with him two digits by two digits multiplication, followed by decimal multiplication. Level of disgust at curriculum planning and lesson planning went up at least two notches!

The final question on that page! I should be happy, right, since I'm at the last question? But no! My jaws dropped when I saw this question! I was already sitting with my boy for at least an hour, going through the worksheet, teaching him fraction and decimal multiplication. My boy was exhausted after an hour of learning and relearning new things. He is after all, a Primary 3 student if we are back in Singapore!

Looking at the question, he knew he had to do division, and he could form the equation. But when trying to divide, I could see that he was going to cry. He didn't feel good after going through questions 1 to 5. Demoralising. When you get a worksheet to do at home, you are supposed to be apply knowledge you learnt in school. Yes, and No. The depth of teaching is very shallow in school. This was when I knew I had to stop my lesson with him. "Let's just use the calculator", I told him. I am very against kids at his age using calculators, and I always remind him not to use it when doing simple calculations, since it is required by the school to have a calculator in his desk. The level of disgust is super high, but it has yet to reach its maximum ... read on ....

Looks like a simple question, right? It is, just that there is no space provided for the kids to do their working. All the teacher requires is the answer. How does the teacher check the understanding of the student when there is no working? A wrong answer could mean "No understanding, cannot do, therefore, wrong answer". It could also indicate that the kid understood the question, but a careless calculation led him to the wrong answer.

Lack of curriculum planning, lesson planning, in depth practice, and checking of the student's understanding. And that's Chapter 1 of my Horrible Math! I need a break ....


3blessings said...

Wow, the worksheet is really tough! many concepts tested in one worksheet! KW is fortunate he has you to teach him! what about the rest, can they cope??

PiggyMummy said...

I have absolutely no idea how the other students cope, whether their parents check their work or not. The teacher is very nice, as she bothers to mark their work. Can't blame her for curriculum planning, since she gets her resources from the district or school gives her. I think she does a lot when compared to the other teachers at the same level. Some classes don't even get this worksheet as homework, or rather, no homework.

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