Sunday, September 12, 2010

Math & Me

My relationship with math is a complex one - Hated it in preschool, loved it in primary school, kind of liked it in secondary school, mad-liked about it when I taught it to preschoolers. Actually, mathematics was never listed on my Subjects-I-Hate list. I don’t have fantastic memory skills and therefore liked subjects which do not require much memorizing of facts and theories. That may explain why I actually liked mathematics back then in school (and hated History), as I know that I only need to remember the formula, have some level of “mathematical intelligence”, apply the formula accordingly to every question, and heed my teacher’s advice to practice(x10). I managed to obtain a credit (C6; nothing to boast about) in E Math for my ‘O’ Levels, but I did ask myself: Why didn’t I score better given that I did generally have a liking for math then? Perhaps the fault lies with my mathematics teacher back then in secondary school whom I feel did not contribute much to providing the maximum knowledge we needed to equip ourselves for the big exams. Or to point my finger back at me, I could have done more practice. Anyway, I think I have the “formula” to my relationship with mathematics….

Practice + Success (correct answers)  =  Happy  ;)

Practice + Failure (wrong answers)      =  Frustration :X


a) Reflection on Chapters 1 & 2

After reading the initial chapters from the text, I realized that mathematics may not always mean practicing it to death. There is so much more to mathematics than what teachers back then told us: Practice (x100).

Chapter 1
Basing on the six principles in Chapter 1, it is clear that these principles contribute to excellence in mathematics education. For instance, early childhood educators would have learnt during their course of study that assessment is essential to find out child’s strengths and needs. The Assessment Principle quoted the author that “Assessment should not merely be done to students; rather, it should be done for students, to guide and enhance their learning”. I agree with the author that it is important for educators to ensure that assessment through student interaction shall encourage students to communicate and clarify their ideas. I also agree with the author that teachers must have a good idea of how their students may be thinking about or misunderstanding the mathematics that is being developed. It is important for teachers to understand their students’ mathematical abilities well to determine their competency level. Through personal experiences in school, I feel that teachers who can detect students’ misunderstanding of mathematical concepts at an early stage can help to render support accordingly, and administer more appropriate assessments to follow up.

Chapter 2
Halfway through reading Chapter 2, I digressed a little to actually engage myself with the math problems. Having left secondary school a little more than a decade ago, I got into “brain freeze” moments, but despite all that I wanted to get through the challenges. I recall the good old days where I got all hyped up upon solving mathematics problems and would be hungry for more. Then there’s some of the not-so-good old days where I couldn’t problem solve and would start pulling my hair. But I guess it all boils down to how well one understands mathematics and apply appropriate strategies. I feel that the Strategic competence is one of the most crucial out of the five strands of mathematical proficiency. Personally, I sometimes feel an adrenaline rush (in a good way) when I need to find different strategies to solve math problems.

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