Asians are good in math.  Filipinos are Asians.  Filipinos are good in math.

Duh… I don’t think this line of reasoning quite applies.  We’re probably the only Asians who are not doing well in this field.  I have students (first year college) who don’t know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide signed numbers.  I had to make my first year math classes make a multiplication table because I found out that they couldn’t multiply one digit numbers! (E.g., 4×4=8)  Our mathematics education is in such a sorry state.  We put more value on athletics and the arts that we tend to forget that we use math in our daily lives and it is important that we develop the number sense in our students.

I have two Korean students in my Math and Stat classes.  Except for the fact that they are struggling in English, they’re very good in math.  I asked my Stat class one time to solve a linear equation in one unknown.  The process required an application of Algebra.  None of my Pinoy students could get it – but when I asked the Korean to answer on the board, he gave a quick – and elegant – solution.  What saddened me was that my Pinoy students couldn’t even understand the solution! 

It is difficult to make students unlearn the wrong concepts they learned back in grade school or high school.  We can’t entirely blame them, though, for some of them had been taught math by teachers whose majors were either Social Studies or PE or English.  What is worse is that these students have such a poor level of reading comprehension that makes learning math even more difficult. 

One time I gave a quiz to my Math Special class (which is a remedial class) and the instruction went this way:  State whether or not the following sets are closed under the indicated operation.  How are you supposed to answer then?  For each item, you either answer closed or not closed, right?  Well, there was this student who answered this way:  1)  whether; 2) or not; 3) whether, and so on.  You get the drift, I hope. 

Things like these get me frustrated and challenged at the same time.  I not only have to teach them math, but I have to teach them reading comprehension as well!  I just hope I can make a difference in these kids, and somehow, help them to gain some degree of mathematical literacy.

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