I took Math, Additional Mathematics and Further Mathematics decades back. I thoroughly enjoyed studying them. Even my friends who didn’t do too well in Mathematics had no major complaints about it.
It has been more than 10 years since I last tried a Mathematics problem sum. I ended up unlearning and relearning the subject when my daughter was in primary school. Luckily for her, I am very persistent, diligent and resilient. I would sit with her and figure out how to solve problems.
I was very unhappy with the school teachers because they did not use the textbooks which the school wanted us to buy. I had to see the heads of department, principal and subject teachers to find out why they were not using the textbook. Once my daughter told me, “Teacher said just refer to the textbook. “ But which page, what topic? Where is your workbook? With the teacher. Did you bring the textbook to school? No. Why? Because teacher said we didn’t need it. When homework had to be done, it was a single sheet of paper with no references except two or one worked example. How was I to know? How could any child do the problems sums? From memory?
The teachers would already have answer keys. They don’t need to solve the questions. But we have to spend hours trying to figure out how to solve problem sums. In the end, many resorted to hiring tutors to get tackle this issue.
Parents also feel anxious about Mathematics because the schools rank the students according to their Mathematics results.
I was also told that courses offered in post-secondary had “preferred Additional Mathematics” written in fine print. So many schools made Additional Mathematics a compulsory subject.
Why Do We Keep Having To Battle Against Time And Childhood In Education?
When there is no more fun in learning, kids do not want to learn.
The first thing that kids know how to ask a parent these days is, “How to do that?”
When they are asked to count, add or multiply, you can literally see their eyes gazing into the space above their heads, their fingers start moving as if typing on a keyboard and their mouths twitching. The amount of thinking that goes into solving a Mathematics question is so intense it can be seen right away. Eyes, fingers and mouth all start working at the same time. So much so that when they get their hands on a calculator, they become lazy to think what one divided by 3 is. The simplest mathematical calculation becomes mentally challenging.
Kids seldom ever enjoy studying these days. They talk about their homework not of the topics in the homework. “I finish my homework.” They talk about more studying to be done and longer CCA hours. They simply do not have the experience to explain anything.
Parents go out of their way to find out what is expected of them for the next level, before the children even finish a single month of schooling at the lower level.
The keyword here is ‘ahead’. Prepare ahead, study ahead, get a good headstart to, get up ahead… Even the tuition centers are aggravating this issue with marketing headlines that send parents rushing to register early for the early bird discounts.
The word most dreaded words are “behind time”, “slow”, “need to be more…”, “still have a lot to catch up with” , “not ready yet”, ‘not enough time…
What I Have Experienced
The pace of life is going so fast that we have created very little space for our kids to breathe.
I once brought along Mandarin books for my family trip. My in-law thought I was pressurizing my daughter . “Why are you teaching her before she’s even ready?” Guess what it was only primary 1 textbook.
On hindsight, I am glad I didn’t listen to anyone not to work less hard for her.
As much as I hate to admit it, we have to follow the pace just to keep up with the standards. We wouldn’t have got to where we are now.
In my experience, this energy and persistence are fueled by our own aspirations for our children. Then there’s expectation to perform according to the standards we have been made to accept. In trying not to put standards above the child, we speak to the child in different tones to voice our aspirations. The result is, as what we are see happening now. Parents rolled in holidays, homework, tutoring and reward into one bundle of activities. Under any normal circumstances, this is mental torture.
I reward my daughter with sleep and massage. The brain certainly to rest to grow. Personally , I work on weekly schedules. If homework is not followed through after two weeks, something is really wrong.
To make schooling fun again is really becoming more challenging. Meritocracy is a word that is literally fed into the minds of students and parents. Grades, success, tests, assessment, homework, assignments. So many terms all going in one direction. Academic performance.
Schooling, it used to be fun. Well not anymore. It Sucks!