Sunday, June 29, 2008

Teaching in Chile

The children were asked to arranged numbers one to five in a certain arrangement such that the total of the three horizontal numbers and the total of the three vertical numbers are the same. Later, the sets of numbers were changes to two to six, three to seven and four to eight. Each time, the children were asked to tell what the common total was. For each set of numbers, there were three possible totals. Finally, the children were asked to predict the possible totals if the sets of numbers were five to nine and ten to fourteen.

During my visit to Universidad del Pacifico, I had the good fortune to use this problem with a third-grade class in a public school and a fourth grade class in a private school, both in Chile. I have taught many lessons using such and other problems to primary school children in Singapore. In the public school, the children were less confident. In the private school, they were more so. In Singapore, some classes were closer to the class in the public school and others were more similar to the class in the private school. In some of these classes, the children had stronger basics. In others, the basics were not quite in place yet. In Singapore, the children spoke in English. In Chile, they spoke mostly in Spanish. Singapore students often performed well in international comparative study. Chilean students, less so.

But the potential of the Chilean children was not any less than that of Singaporean children. The Chilean kids were as engaged as the kids in Singapore. They were just as enthusiastic in trying to solve the problems. Their faces lit up when they managed. They looked puzzled when two of their friends gave conflicting information. They discovered for themselves who was right. They did all these and more, just like Singaporean kids.

I learnt that kids everywhere have the same potential. I believe that given the same opportunities kids everywhere will reach the same pinnacle.

EL Mercurio News


Eddy said...

Dear Dr. Yeap, this evening my wife attended your seminar on "Problem Solving Heuristics in Mathematics" in my kid's school. She was totally blown away by your insight into the maths syllabus for Singapore school & how the parents can help & engage the kids in Maths. Just like to say a big thanks to you as my wife certainly benefited from this short but practical seminar. We will use what we have learned today into helping our kid to progress further in maths problem solving.

Dr Yeap Ban Har said...
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