Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Everyone's Favourite Topic - Eggs (An update on Math entry)

So just a few days ago, I blogged on the humbling lesson I'd learnt from my daughter's Math paper. (in case you didn't get to read it.. here's it…

When I started this blog (a week back), it had only a couple hundreds of views… but because of that entry, it became 6000+ (that post alone garnered 5100 views as of today). In another words it became viral. (Oh no… what have I done…

Because I posted it on Facebook, I had friends liking the post, commented on it and 2 (officially) shared it. But from there… somehow, it became 5000+ views from Singapore, 169 views from USA, 147 views from UK… the list goes on. (And as I write, the numbers are still increasing… like… how come people don't sleep one?)
I had friends who also privately messaged me and told me not to stop blogging and how much they enjoyed reading my blog (I was humbled… not as much as by the math question… but nonetheless still humbled) And because of that post, naturally they went on to read the next post on the outing to ECP… which is just a normal post that talked about mundane stuff. (now that was funny) Essentially they wanted to know, what did the school say (coming coming..)

From my Facebook page, I had many teacher friends who think that Audrey should not have been penalized. In fact, like me, they were pretty impressed by how orthodox her logic was… (okay because i didn't think that way… maybe that gene came from the dad) So to those who think the education system is hopeless, we got warriors in it who are trying very hard to prove otherwise. 

There were people who also commented that the answer should be 7. Their reason - whether it's broken or not, it's still an egg. (They are not wrong, but reading that made me want to slap them… only because they are my friends) True that, but we are not in a philosophy class.. so whether the glass is half full or half empty is really not the issue right now. 

There were also some who felt that because this is P1 Term 1's work and obviously, the children has been taught that whenever you see the term "left", the way to solve it is to use the subtraction method, hence if the student did not achieve the answer using that solution, the objective is not met and she should not be getting the score.
And that actually is the school's stand.

The teacher called me yesterday and in short, this is what she said:
1) Firstly, she really didn't see how Audrey got it at first and was quite surprised a child had interpret it this way
2) This was done in class and the students were taught that whenever they see "left", at this point, they should take the whole and take away a part of it.
3) The students are not expected to read word equations now, hence they had to minimize the words used and rely heavily on the diagram.
4) The question (while many argue is poorly set) is actually modified from their workbook (uh oh…. i hope now there won't be 4000+ people flipping through the P1 Math workbook and finding fault with it)
5) As a level they somehow agreed that because Audrey didn't meet their objective of the test, she can't be awarded the mark…
6) Ironically, however, if Audrey had put (4 +3 = 7) down as the working, and gave her answer as 4 she will get the mark instead of the comment Fluke! (Yes, we had to explain to her what Fluke is… okay the teacher explained that she thought it was only by chance that Audrey got it right) Oh in case you are wondering, it's because the child has understood part and whole concept… like a number bond?

Of course the protective parent in me didn't accept their explanation. (Please… I'm a Singaporean still… where can you find a singaporean who doesn't complain??) But I was very calm and told her to discuss with her level head/HOD again… (I didn't say I will resort to the press though… I mean like, does it still work nowadays???? )

And as a parent, these were my reasons:
1) In order to understand what was "left", the child understands it would be the unbroken eggs (And audrey has achieved that)
2) I asked her, if you gave a child $2 as daily allowance, and she spends $0.80 that day. Now if you had asked her, how much money does she have left, and she starts counting the remaining money in her wallet to give you the answer, should she be penalized? (Of course the teacher said no, but she said, in this case, the kids were taught that for such question to use subtraction to find the answer for left… which obviously contradicts point 6 above… that in a bit)
3) I also said if they had strictly wanted her to use subtraction, they could simply worded it as "Using a subtraction equation, find how many eggs are left." Then that would have minimize any chance of misinterpretation
4) If Audrey could come up with an easier and less careless alternative (Well it's definitely easier to add 3+1 than 7-3), why are we faulting her? Besides at national exams teachers are also taught to accept alternative answers and solutions should it make sense, why not now..
5) How come we can accept 4+3=7 (award 1 working mark for that) and give 1 mark for the answer 4? I mean if the child puts 3, and still get 1 mark for working, how is that even understanding the question? It doesn't make any sense at all right?
6) Finally, I told her, considering the above, if the school insists that she is wrong, what values are we telling the child? That because Audrey doesn't conform to the norm, she should not be rewarded? Or because she didn't meet the KPIs of the test, she is wrong? (how would a 6 year old know so much?) In short, I told her that it is not about the marks, but what message we are telling the child by marking it wrong.
See I may be a strict parent with high expectations, but I am a very protective one as well, especially when it comes to her development. If I did my part as a parent, I won't allow anyone to create a mess out of it.

To which, she told me she will discuss with her level coordinator again and get back to me… soon. This is the last week and I really hoped that they could explain to Audrey this week since it's all fresh in her mind. (So don't worry there will be another update on that)

BUT guys, before you condemn the school/teacher, or saying that it's ridiculous (come on admit it) the intention of the post was really NOT to declare war against the authority (it seems like it's a trend these days, but it's really not my cup of tea). It is also not to scare parents to see how hopeless the education system is or how the teachers should go back to NIE or try taking national exams again or whatever... (There are MANY dedicated teachers in the service who work very hard to look after a stranger's child while they can only pray that someone will look after theirs… and no… the tax you pay don't pay for their salaries because hello… they pay tax too!)

That blog entry was only humbling because it was only by taking time in the quiet moments of the night, looking from a 6 year old's point of view, and hoping to understand it better, did I realize that I had overlooked her alternative suggestion (which is not wrong!) 

Audrey wasn't misunderstood because her parent, i.e. me (this once) did it. But there's other kids who may not have been given another chance and even had their answers laughed at because, to us, it didn't make sense. 
Unfortunately, they could be your child/student. My question is, when the time comes, would you then, have celebrated his/her small successes or condemned him/her like the rest of the world?
The objective was then to say, yes they are kids and they may see things differently, but no, it may not be wrong.  

With that, I hope the essence of the entry was not lost. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys… and finally the conclusion…. :)