I do not have an affinity with numbers.
Perhaps it was because of a bad experience in school that made me dislike Math; my primary school teacher screamed “Why did you make such simple mistakes?!” and then threw my workbook onto the ground. I was crying by the time I reached my seat again with my workbook.
Or perhaps my teacher never realized that what she thought was easy, was not easy for me.
Up till today I still shudder at the thought of teaching Math. But since attending Math lessons by Mr Philip Koh and Mdm Agnes Dieu during my polytechnic days, I have gained abit more self confidence and knowledge about teaching Math.
I never believed Math has a connection with anything other than Math. I had always thought that English was always a more important subject to learn because I heard examples of students who excel in Math but fail papers because they could not read the problem sums that were in English. I remained skeptical about Math’s role until I reflected for this blog entry. The music lessons I attended; the value of each note in a music score; the counting of each beat; all these were indirectly related to Math. It did not occur to me too, that Math is part of our everyday life; adding up all the extra peak hour, ERP, call booking and pick-up location charges for the taxi fare; subtracting the amount of leftover milk from the total amount to see how much milk my son has drunk; dividing yet another Barney birthday cake for the 20 children in the class, and then multiplying your initially low level of anger by 100 just to tell them to be seated and that only the birthday child gets to blow out the candle.
“What students learn about Mathematics almost entirely depends on the experiences that teachers provide every day in the classroom.” – p. 2
How I wish I could learn Mathematics this way! During my days teaching, I noticed how children enjoyed singing so I would sing songs such as “Five little frogs” and count down with the children.
One reason I fear teaching Math is that there seems to be no end to the ever changing syllabus. I find myself struggling to keep up with the changing standards. When I see the topics my primary school-going cousins are tackling, I feel very lucky not to have gone through the pain and suffering (It is pain and suffering for me considering my amateur Math capabilities).
During my free time and wanting to impress the boss by going the extra mile, I scoured through Primary One Math assessment books for the topics they covered, and compared it with my preschool curriculum. I wanted to bridge the huge gap between both Math syllabi, so I was slotting topics from the Primary One syllabus into my preschool syllabus, and trying to figure out which topics to start and end with.
“Assessment… should also be done for students, to guide and enhance their learning” – NTCM, 2000, p. 22)
Another reason I fear teaching Math is having to do assessment. My secondary school days learning Math was:
- having to collect my Math workbook from the floor…
- … to see red streaks marked across each page…
- … and then having to copy the correct answers for all the wrong ones.
Not a very effective way of assessment, was it? I do agree that “(a)lthough high expectations are important, testing alone is not an appropriate approach to improved student learning” (p. 1).
By the end of this course, I hope to be able to learn the appropriate methods of assessment that will benefit the children, and more importantly, my own son!.