Thursday, April 9, 2015

P1 Math… The downfall of a P1 Parent...

I am not a Math Professor, neither do I have a degree in Math. It may seem that I have a bone to pick with the math syllabus, but I don't. I just don't understand why certain methods make sense to the publisher, and certain methods don't make sense to the teacher?

So, here's one of the questions found in the P1 Math Workbook Part 2. Now in case you are wondering why these questions were solved with an addition sign, it was printed with it so the children had no choice but to solve it with the addition sign. 
(I'm sure it was so confusing that even the teacher marked the corrections wrongly for question 1)

There's just some things I cannot understand..
1) What is the purpose of the picture of 8 pears and a paper bag again?? (how does the bag even help me to solve the question???)
2) How would a teacher assess if a kid gives such a working? Should the 1 mark for working (which may not make sense to me) be given the mark or be marked 0? 
3) How does it make sense to solve it using an addition sign? Assuming if the question does not have pictures (relevant or otherwise), a kid would now need to think through a process like this:
Step 1:
8 (original) + ___ (bought) = 14 (now)

Step 2:
14 - 8 = ? 

Then wouldn't it be better to just teach step 2 direct? 

4) The intention of/for such questions. Are we encouraging a (forced) creativity in solving questions here? 

To be honest, I am not at all comfortable with this assignment. Can someone honestly tell me if the solution makes sense? Something maybe I have overlooked? 
I asked D to see if he could understand this… and even he couldn't explain it… (He's a man of few words… but this left him speechless)

But at this point, I'm just a frustrated parent. 


  1. Good point, and I agree that putting the plus sign there adds to unnecessary confusion.
    Not to worry, as at higher levels (upper Primary and above), there is usually no specified method to solve the question, and students are free to use whatever method they like.

    Regarding 4) Intention of such questions, I think the teachers are trying to expose students to tricky questions.
    One example of their favorite trick questions is: 5 more than ________ is 13, where students are supposed to fill in the missing blank. They are trying to trick students who add 5+13=18 upon seeing the word "more" without thinking.

    During my time as a student, there was a popular cheap trick set by teachers: Tom has 3 times more stickers than Peter, actually means Tom has 4 times as many stickers as Peter. They have stopped setting such trick questions though, which is a good thing as it doesn't test concepts while confusing the student unnecessarily.

    1. Hey Mathtuition! It's you again.. Haha.. I guess you are out to spot for math entries huh? That said, I was discussing with a friend.. and my point was And how do u solve for ?. Do you take 8-3 to get the answer still or you based it on mental sum that ? is 5. If you are solving it with the latter then, we are expecting a P1 child to know their mental sums very well. And if so, we are also saying then that the child should just use mental sums and forget about the working. If you are telling the former then, my question is why is there only 1 step to the solution and isn't it the same as taking 8-3 from the start?
      The starting point of it is not my concern. The way it is presented is.
      My grouse is that just because it's from the publisher (which is approved by MOE) and/or written by a few professors doesn't make it a sensible (i.e. something that makes sense to a 7 year old) question. I can enjoy the complexity of it as an adult. But as a parent, no.
      That said, I don't think skipping a step when presenting the solution makes the question more challenging, but it makes the solution more confusing to the child. But thanks for agreeing with me that it was an unnecessary confusion. Though the school has made it clear that with such working, they will still accept it as right….