Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Entry 8 - Reflections about the course

I agree with the following statement jointly issued by NAEYC and NTCM in 2002: "All children need an early start in Mathematics." Just as important that all children got exposed to language learning early in their life, a strong mathematical foundation should start from young too. Mathematics should not be taught as a level of knowledge, but rather, it should be taught for understanding so that children who learn it are developing in themselves a range of cognitive competency, that allow them to deal with the many demands of the outside world.

I remembered as mentioned in Lesson 4, Dr. Yeap introduced to us the 3 meanings of Addition ad Subtraction: Part-whole, Change Meaning, and Comparison. It suddenly dawned to me that I had not quite paid attention to this, or rather, I had not even knew about it. While studying the 3 meanings in detail, I noticed that each meaning actually takes the children progressively in developing understanding about addition and subtraction from simple to complex: Part-whole-->Change meaning --> Comparison.

Honestly speaking, I do feel "silly" at some points of time during class, for the fact that I took a longer-than-others time to understand and grasp the logic behind solving the various mathematical tasks we were assigned. However, when I finally understood them, I reflected and realized that I am actually taking myself through a journey of critical thinking moments - exactly what teachers should bring children through! Many mistakes that teachers commit when teaching mathematics: Teach for the sake of getting a solution, and not teach for understanding.

Most impactful lesson
Of all the classes, the lesson on geometry at the last lesson had the greatest impact on me - I was very amazed at how geometry learning can be so complex but at the same time, it is also easy if one had grasped the understanding of it well. Geometry is not just about seeing shapes as what it is, but rather understanding what it is, so as to be able to apply its understanding in a variety of contexts.

Using tangrams to create shapes

Using the geo-dots to create shapes with differentiating sides and areas

I had never tried the Sudoku game before: The sight of it "numbs" my thinking. The challenging part was not doing the cubes right, but strategizing the numbers in a way that they do not repeat. Although I had found it challenging, it was fun!

I feel that the neglience of creative Mathematics education has resulted in many children not knowing how to approach the subject positively - I was one of them. I remembered my Secondary school maths teacher coming to class only with a marker in his pocket and started to teach by writing on the board - it did not helped me much given the fact my forte is not in Maths!

The whole class on Elementary Mathematics taught me one thing that I found very valuable: Mathematics is not about formulas, it is about the development of understanding and conceptualizing mathematical content. As simple as it may be to some people, however, I feel Mathematics is a very abstract area - one needs to "see beyond" the given sums or texts to be able to apply the relevant logical thinking and approach the solution with understanding.

"In mathematics I can report no deficience, except it be that men do not sufficiently understand the excellent use of the Pure Mathematics." ~Roger Bacon

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