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Chinese Maths Test

Mathematicians set Chinese test

I think this is a perfect example of how maths in the National Curriculum is treated as a set of facts to learn rather than skills to help you think.

From working through the Chinese problem it doesn't seem to require any knowledge beyond that required from the English one plus a few basic facts about angles (which were certainly being taught at KS3 a couple of years ago).

Therefore if a Child who is capable of doing the English problem is also capable of spotting which angles they need to find, which triangles they lie in and what they need to know to calculate that they could solve the Chinese problem without trouble.

If children were allowed to do more investigative work rather than being shown methods to practice on basic problems then we wouldn't have any problems asking questions like this at university level and it would make the subject a lot less dull. What's the point in teaching them all this stuff if you don't also teach how to use it and where it comes from?

As it is, I can just see a large number of students perfectly capable of answering this problem, but being put off by finding it too daunting due to not being put in the position of having to take problems apart before.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
24th Jun, 2007 20:32 (UTC)
I agree. When I was taught maths at school it was a series of methods that you used again and again on variants of the same problem until you knew the methods by heart. I remember spending weeks on the subtraction method of solving simultaneous equations, which was ridiculous, because I can't even remember it now, I just mess about until some values fall out, so those were weeks in which they could have been teaching me what e.g. vectors or complex numbers were. It used to drive me nuts. And when we got to geometry where you had to spot which triangle to use the other students were all so brainwashed into picking which rote-learned algebraic method they needed to use that they just sat there stupefied.
24th Jun, 2007 22:04 (UTC)

If you're not using the methods every day you will forget them, but it's easier to remind yourself of them once you've learnt them, so it is worth spending some time over them.

However, if you spent that time discovering the method fpr itself (or a variant of it and then get shown how to improve on it to get the actual method used) you will have a better understanding of why you do it.
25th Jun, 2007 08:59 (UTC)
It takes three examples to learn something that easy; we did 300.
24th Jun, 2007 20:50 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. Too much of schooling is regurgitationg facts rather than exploring ways to peoblem solve and to think critically. But then again, how can a government have a subservient population if they know how to think and can spot propaganda a mile away?
24th Jun, 2007 21:08 (UTC)
Are you a maths teacher?
24th Jun, 2007 21:45 (UTC)
I was briefly
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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