Patrick Ponders....

Posted by M ws On Monday, August 1, 2011 2 comments
My old friend and former colleague, P.T., wrote the following post upon my request. P.T. taught Mathematics in Australia and Penang from 1970 to 1993. He was Head of Mathematics, Examinations Secretary and the Discipline Master in the school. P.T., a caring teacher and friend,  has a deep passion for maths and is one of the best maths teachers I know. Whenever we meet for lunch to catch up, we would both lament about the current deplorable standards in education. I saw a paragraph in his FB notes and immediately requested him to expand it into a full post so here it is:


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On my recent trip to Perth, my nephew asked me to help him with a Maths question from passed Yr 12 WA Maths paper that he could not understand: "Prove that the difference of the squares of CONSECUTIVE INTEGERS is always odd." He cannot understand what is "Consecutive integers". What has happened to the standards throughout the World? Basic vocabulary in Mathematics are not being taught to students nowadays. Instead, "pigeon information" is being taught!

Moreover, the standard of comprehension of the English Language amongst students nowadays is very lacking! On another occasion,  I asked another student from MLC College in Melbourne: "What is a RATIONAL number?" She just looked blankly at me as if I had spoken in GERMAN to her!

Then I asked her : "Do you understand the meaning of RATIONAL?".

She answered "NOPE".

If this is the case with most of our students nowadays, how can they cope with questions in paragraph form which appear in paper 2 and requires a good understanding of the English Language to interpret what the question wants?

Moreover, Cambridge IGCSE examination in Mathematics has lowered their standard at the beginning of 2010 because most students in UK cannot pass their Mathematics! With the help of calculators and other equipments, the students are still struggling! Students are not taught to learn how to estimate an answer so that when they use their calculators , they can know whether what they have punched in and the answer they get is correct! Now most students cannot live without a calculator! Their brain cannot function anymore!

In the old days, the grades were very distinct: A, B, C ,D, E and so on.....When you get an "A", you really deserved that "A" and it was a solid "A". Nowadays, there are A*, A, A-, etc....but all "HOLLOW" A's. I have tested a few top scoring students from my old School that I taught before and guessed what? Very disappointing to learn that these so-called "A*" students cannot answered a simple question that I put forward to them! Why are parents paying so much money for a better education system at a private school and not getting their money worth?

I sincerely hope that teachers will go back to the BASICS and teach their students the basic foundations in their respective subjects so that when they progress to the upper forms and Universities, they are well-equip and able to cope at that level! Teachers must sacrifice more of their time and be more dedicated in their profession and ensure that the students under their care are well taken care of!

My heart is very heavy looking at the present situation of the Education systems and standards throughout the World!

I rest my case.

-written by Patrick T.-

2 comments to Patrick Ponders....

  1. says:

    Bunny maths was a subject i disliked when i was in school. this dislike continued till i was in my thirties. in my forties i started to understand a bit of it. my fifties saw me being totally indifferent to maths.

    in my sixties now i still do not see why this subject was forced onto students who had no liking for numbers.

    my daughter who is now in her thirties had absolutely no affinity to maths. however she was composing music at the age of six and has perfect pitch.

    if parents and teachers could be trained to recognise abilities instead of inabilities the world would be a better place.

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Bunny

    I responded to this comment a few days ago but it is not here :-( because after typing it, I must have forgotten to click POST COMMENT. My deepest apologies for this oversight.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart.

    Like you, I hated maths, especially from Form 4 - because of Additional Maths. That turned me off so much from that eventually, I dropped Add Maths and took English Literature instead. What a relief! Having said that, I had nightmares even of Modern Maths hehe...and was so happy I did pretty well despite all the hang ups. Still, for about a year after that, I did have nightmares about that MCE episode.

    My two boys are brilliant in maths. Thank God they inherited my husband's genes in that department :-). Both also have perfect pitch. Deep relief.

    I do agree that parents have an important role to bring out the best in their children, even teachers.

    Take care and thanks so much for sharing.

    Have a great week.

    Cheers

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