Friday, October 15, 2010

We're Back for Business!

After 4 weeks of self-regulated e-learning, it's good to be back in the classroom face-to-face with Dr Yeap and my coursemates once again!

These days, with the acute advancement of technology, almost anything can be learnt from the internet - the amount of info is mind-boggling and staggering! Online learning is widespread and a must. However, to me, nothing can replace a teacher (thus far)! No doubt computers can be effective tools for helping our pupils learn academic subjects, yet we will always need human teachers to provide moral guidance and foster intellectual growth and social development. Computers provide pupils with information, but only we teachers can teach our children to think critically and creatively, discriminating among sources of information.

Dr Yeap mentioned the use of a calculator. It can computate huge numbers and complex equations, and generate answers in matter of seconds. But it has no brain. Can a brainless tool help a child learn? Of course not!

I'd like to draw an analogy here with the computer. Its uses are wonderful and manifold. But it has no feelings. It cannot comfort a child who is going through a rough patch in life. It cannot answer a question a pupil has in class based on what is known about this inquirer. It has no experience whatsoever to speak of, much less to share. We need empathy and sympathy. We need a human touch and understanding. No computer can to be programmed to provide these.

Moreover, whatever a computer can do, however, its ability comes from a human source. This means that the brain behind it is far more superior! Yeah!

So, it was all-so-exciting to be back together to explore and discover some initiatives in teaching and learning.

Some of the things I learnt that evening:

1. It is not what we teach, but how we teach that is the crust of our teaching.

I need to constantly reflect on my lessons to see how I can teach better so that my pupils can learn better, and have countless "moments of enlightenment and joy" ('Rationale of Mathematics Syllabus - Primary'). It's my desire that many of them will wear of the hat of a mathematician joyfully!

2. Besides being "an excellent vehicle (the word 'vehicle' suggests to me a journey, a destination) for the development and improvement of a person's intellectual competence", Mathematics is to be "a subject of enjoyment and excitement".

I figure it's my duty to infuse enjoyment and excitement into every Math lesson!

3. Jerome Bruner is the forerunner of CPA, Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract.

It is said that Bruner, in his research on the development of children (1966), proposed three modes of representation: enactive representation (action-based), iconic representation (image-based), and symbolic representation (language-based).

4. There is such a method as the Lattice Method when doing a 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication.

It works this way:

Add the digits diagonally. Voila! The answer is 784.

5. A book in hand is worth two in the bookshop!

I've asked my school Math HOD if we have the book 'Teaching Primary School Mathematics' edited by Lee and Lee. We don't. Based on my recommendation, Mrs G-F immediately placed an order with the vendor and I finally laid my hands on it.

Upon reading, one particular problem in the book caught my attention. 

"Cut 7 cakes into 24 pieces and share them equally among 12 children" (Page 22, 'Teaching Primary School Mathematics' edited by Lee and Lee).

I know the quickest way of solving this! :)

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