How do you like this page in my son’s jotter book? It was a doodle produced during a continuous conversation about Length, a story I wrote about in Chapter 10 of Fun-filled Math Conversations With Your Child. You can see how much I enjoyed doodling and how much he disliked colouring. It was important that I taught him to translate the information floating inside his head into a readable and writable form on paper so that others can understand him. This is called literacy. Exams are paper-based after all.
The last Friday of each September is like D-Day for most Singaporeans turning 12 that year, and their parents. It is the day they sit for the 2.5hr PSLE Math paper (65 minute break in between). This question was reportedly featured in this year’s paper!
But… this questions looks more like a puzzle. What is it doing in an exam paper?
The Ministry Of Education writes in its Mathematics Syllabus for primary education, about their goal to raise students who understand math in real life. It is a good objective, but I wonder how they expect their teachers to carry that out when a large part of real life takes place outside the classroom. Multiply that problem across a class of 40 students, with each having his own unique “real life” experiences, and you will understand how difficult that task is. Is it possible for even the best math teacher to engage all her students in real life math within the limited periods of Math lessons? What is math in “real life” in the first place?
It will take only a minute to teach your child that 60 seconds makes one minute.
“We’ll be there in one minute, shall we count to sixty together? One, two, three,……”
And don’t worry, he will eventually learn to tell the time out of pure necessity, even if you forget to teach him to read the clock. Just place an analogue clock in front of him, and make sure it is working properly and has a battery inside. Better still if you can draw him a clock face showing his favourite time of the day and stick it next to the real clock. Kids are clever, they get it.
I named my first hamsters Bo Bo and Cha Cha, after my favourite dessert. Cha Cha died at his 1 month old birthday party after being dropped from a height of 1.5 metres. I grieved and cried for days over the loss of a loved pet. I was fifteen then.
Bo Bo lived on to have many babies with male hamsters that I borrowed from my friends. The population in my little cage grew and I had lots of fun with that project. Eventually, I grew lazy and got distracted with other interests, neglecting my little darlings despite constant reminders from my mom.
The idea of space travel was first planted in my head when Space 1999 was broadcasted on national TV in the 1970s. My father told me then, that outer space was purely fictional, but the 8 year old me was adamant that I would be visiting space in 1999, which was 2 lifetimes away for me.
Growing up, I recall one strange day when I crashed my head into a low hanging horizontal beam of the block of flat where I lived. I’ve run below that beam a thousand times with no problem, until that day. It wasn’t obvious to me that I had grown taller.
As a mom of 2 boisterious little boys, I used to grab them by the arms when they misbehaved. They would struggle to free themselves of my hold, but I was strong enough to overpower them. But one strange day, the same struggle with the elder son resulted in me being knocked over. It wasn’t obvious to him that he had grown bigger and stronger. The same happened with my younger son.
The lion chases a bunny. It hasn’t eaten for days. It is hungry.
Case 1: If you’ve just watched The Lion King, you’ll empathise with the lion. You don’t like the feeling of hunger too. The nameless bunny is food!
Case 2: If you’ve just watched Peter Rabbit, you’ll want the bunny to escape because you empathise with it. It doesn’t deserve to die. The lion can go hungry, you don’t care.
Case 3: Bunnies are cute and cuddly pets. You won’t know how anyone could hate them until you see a field full of wild bunnies. After that, you will better empathise with the farmer who want them dead because bunnies burrow his land and damage his crop. The poor farmer has a family to feed. His children don’t deserve to go hungry.