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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July 14, 2006 at 7:14 pm

tonithis is when your students need your patience more than ever! hang in there.

July 16, 2006 at 4:09 am

jefUy! bagong face life ng blog mo ha…me like it!

July 16, 2006 at 9:06 am

tin2joyhi toni! oo nga… i have to stretch my patience to the limits. eh patience is not my virtue pa naman! talagang test ito for me! hehe 🙂

jef, hello! glad you like it. i was getting tired of my old look na eh. time to get a face lift. 🙂

July 16, 2006 at 12:08 pm

bugsybeeHi Tintin! You know I am very poor in math too (so it’s a myth when they say that CPAs are good in math and it’s a running joke in my class: ask her anything about accounting but don’t ask her anything about math). I regret that when I was in grade school and high school, I paid less attention to arithmetic and math and nobody was strict enough to make me pay attention. When I went to grad school, I literally suffered. The first things I bought were: Math for the Clueless, Algebra for Idiots and the like … but it’s just too late for me.

I too am sorry about the state of education in the Philippines (and not just in Math but in virtually everything!) – we pay more attention to boxers than to teachers, to politics and sports than to education. I once went to a seminar by Queena Lee Chua and she said that ideally, good training in Math should start early. But she also told a story about how she and a student worked hard to improve his grades (and hold on to his scholarship). We have hope in teachers like you so don’t give up, Tin – do this for yours students and for yourself.

Sorry for the long, long comment.

July 16, 2006 at 6:58 pm

tin2joyhi bugsy. i appreciate all comments – long or short. 🙂 I agree with what you said about good training starting early. I learned to appreciate and love Math because my father taught me at an early age. I remember he would teach me how to compute for the square root of large numbers without the use of a calculator. I had a blackboard at home where he would write a problem that I would answer when I came home from school. Hehe…I’m such a nerd no? But I guess my dad’s love for math rubbed off on me. And I have realized that students who are good in Math are more confident than students who are only good in English or other subjects. Right now I’m already thinking of ways to help my students, but with such a huge class size (45 to 48) it’s really hard to give particular attention to each one. Hay, sige lang… I’m taking things one at a time. 🙂 or rather, one student at a time. wish me luck!

July 17, 2006 at 8:52 am

kalorieshaha! kadamu mango sa world ah! =D i hope if i do get to teach, mature na ko and patient enough. hehe.

July 17, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Jennhi joy! all this is so true and it’s so sad. i wish schools would put more priority in math nga. d’you know that my mom went back to our dear HS alma mater to tell them how busted our math education is coz my sis and i were having difficulty in UP when in fact we were in the advanced class back in HS! and i pity those people who proudly declare their hatred for math (and economics!) because there’s so much beauty there that they miss out on. gosh i’m just as geeky as you! but really, one failure in math shouldn’t make one so discouraged as to give up on it and hate it for life.

July 18, 2006 at 8:13 am

karoljust had to say na i hate math!!! teehee. luoy ni c enzo kay may blackboard na sya. dapat subong palang ginatudluan na sya mga square root chuchu..or sohcahtoa! hehehe

July 18, 2006 at 8:15 am

kaloriesbtw, mas sadya ang chem….but it also involves math gle…does this mean i kinda like math? hehe. tamad ko mag-ubra day!!!