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Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

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eve88 Female
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  #61 Old 10-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

*non-content post*

garh, can you not use sms language in serious posts? please?
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  #62 Old 10-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

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Originally Posted by eve88 View Post
*non-content post*

garh, can you not use sms language in serious posts? please?

oops..sorry..because it is too long to type using the full words...
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  #63 Old 10-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

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Originally Posted by vespian View Post
oops..sorry..because it is too long to type using the full words...
Vespian, we encourage members to type in proper English here. And it's actually not that hard to type one or two vowels - for the one second you saved from omitting one or two alphabets, you would have wasted people's three second trying to decipher the shorthands.
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  #64 Old 10-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

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Originally Posted by vespian View Post
oops..sorry..because it is too long to type using the full words...
Hah! Obviously you didn't see the remark I made in one of the threads about SMS language:

"If you use 'pls' just because it's shorter than 'please', then I'll say 'no' when you ask for help from me just because it's shorter than 'yes'."

Ouch, but we digressed.

But anyway, I'm tired to talk about teaching of Science and Mathematics already. Sometimes when I give a damn about such issues, things just don't go the way I hope they would. But when I don't give a damn about them because I'm so fed-up, then I hear people urging us to give a damn about them.

So, to the Education Minister, I wish you the best...
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  #65 Old 10-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

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Originally Posted by henry_yew View Post
Hah! Obviously you didn't see the remark I made in one of the threads about SMS language:

"If you use 'pls' just because it's shorter than 'please', then I'll say 'no' when you ask for help from me just because it's shorter than 'yes'."

Ouch, but we digressed.

But anyway, I'm tired to talk about teaching of Science and Mathematics already. Sometimes when I give a damn about such issues, things just don't go the way I hope they would. But when I don't give a damn about them because I'm so fed-up, then I hear people urging us to give a damn about them.

So, to the Education Minister, I wish you the best...



ok....get what you all trying to say...sorry because i am quite new here..so still not familiar with this policy yet..haha..but at least i accept this policy and listen to the majority...unlike the education sector...anyway luckily we have a place like this to unleash our anger...ya but i am not going to wish the Education Minister..but rather...to the future generation.all the best to you all...anyway hope you all understand what i have written because spend quite some time to compose that...
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  #66 Old 11-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

A notes I posted on my fb, might as well as share it here:


=====
I am relieved about the primary school part -- small children cant possibly be learning a new knowledge in a new language when they first enter the school. They are just not old enough to do that. They are small kids for cry out out, kids of 7 or 8 years old. Try imagine you learning Astrophysics in Russian, then you'll understand the reason why this is a good call.

But I felt extremely frusfrated about the secondary school part! Its one of the biggest mistake ever made (well, apart from all other mistakes our dear govt has made) ! This thing, this policy, it messes with our children's mind, the future pillar that is gonna hold up our country! (corruption..okaaay..but messing with young minds? thats totally unforgivable!)

I myself is a victim of such. I've been learning sci and math in chinese for my entire primary school .No big deal, I can understand really well since its my mother tongue and it did contributed to my immense interest in both sci and math when i was a kid (and I still am very interested in how everything works around me)

When I get to secondary school, things changed. I have to relearn everything in Malay. No big deal, since I've got a very good base in Sci and math in Mandarin already and the syllables is not that hard as well. I can still absorb what was taught, in Malay. It was hard at first, the first 2 or 3 months I struggled alot , but hey, I made it through.

Then along comes form 6.

It is alot harder than the first language transition to learn everything AGAIN in English but this time, the knowledge we are assigned is extremely hard.

Take it for example, simple photosynthesis process. In primary school, photosynthesis is when Water+Carbon Dioxide = food + water + oxygen (in Malay/Chinese/Tamil language)...

Then, in secondary school, form 1 to form 3, it became Air + Karbon Dioxida menghasilkan Kanji, air dan udara...OKAAAY, abit harder but still easy.

In form 4 and form 5, it all became even harder, we had to learn the formula (H20 + CO2 = C6H12O6 + O2 + H20) and such, the process, and everything. In Malay, fine, since we already built up a good base of science and math in malay when we were in form 1 to form 3.

Then, form 6. You basically learn the samething in form 4 and 5, but in ALOT more detail. You now need to know the calvin cycle, the enzymes involve in electron transfer and etc etc, in ENGLISH with just the not-so-detail science and math knowledge in Malay in form 4 and 5.

This is the reason why everyone says if you go through Form 6 science stream (I cant judge for the arts as I've not been there but i assume arts is a whole differently since they are still stuck with BM then), you either swim or you die drowning in it. The reason is not that we are not smart enough or anything, alot of it is due to the difficulty of languages. Coupled with teachers' awfully bad English, this is a disaster.

Till this day, I can still remember what my bio teacher said on the first day of my form 6 biology class, "Kelas, <english-science-jargons) ini dalam bahasa kita panggil <malay-science-jargon>. " She was practically teaching science and math in Malay, her own mother tongue, using English textbook.

Now, how do you expect us to score good in STPM, let alone go beyond Malaysia and be a high achiever if this is what we've been and are going to be stuck with -- for 20 years and many 20 more years to come?

The idea is good, but the initial objective was wrong. And now they are abolishing it for not achieving the wrong objective. Where as the right one - they are so blinded with their stupidity that they missed that!

2020, meh, lets make it 3030 or whatever catchy number, without inspiring young minds with a global mindset, its a mission impossible.
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  #67 Old 11-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

Long debates there, huh?

I agree that science and maths of primary school students should be taught in mother tongue, as some students can't even construct a simple English sentence when they first enter primary school, leave alone learning science and maths in English. I believe examples given by henry only apply to minority, who are relatively smart students. Primary school serves as a platform to learn the basics of science and maths, build a strong foundation for these subjects, before proceeding to more academic level in secondary school.

In university or even higher level, science and technology-related fields are pre-dominantly in English. Thus, secondary school as a bridge from foundation towards peak of the field, these subjects should be taught in English. There is no point using/switching to a language that we barely use in that field, then switch again before entering university, it's a total waste of time. The proper way is to improve our English standard at primary level, so that the students have a smooth transition from primary to secondary.

If we keep saying rural students couldn't follow, then I'm sure, yes they never will. Our "beloved" ministers are just running away from the problem, yes, they may fare better in public examination if they learn in BM at secondary level, but then what's next? Don't proceed to university? Stay in secondary school forever? Don't ever try to learn these in English? Never face the reality? Perhaps that's why we have lots of Jaguh Kampung, but rarely Jaguh Dunia. If you never allow a child to learn walking because you're afraid that he'll fall, he will always crawl only. Perhaps it doesn't matter for the parents, even if the child never learn to walk, they can always carry him around, as long as he never fall. Is it the correct mentality there? One day, when the child sees the world and learns that "Oh my God! Everyone around is walking! It's much faster, and they might accidentally kick me, killing me any moment!" Isn't it too late?

I think the best policy for now, is to continue emphasizing on teaching in English at secondary level, but keep the exam papers bilingual. Schools are free to revert to BM if they do not have sufficient teachers to teach in English, while at the same time Education Ministry train more teachers to teach in English. In the long run, more and more schools will adapt to teach in English. Let the better-prepared schools go first, while the lagged-behind schools (e.g rural schools) follow up later. It takes time to achieve 100% teaching in English but it would definitely benefit the country in the long run. Rome was not built in one day.

By the way, it takes only a year to start PPSMI, but it takes three years to scrap it... I was wondering are they waiting for someone's eyes to be closed forever?
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  #68 Old 11-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

The fact is that we are going no where with this, when we keep changing the system. When the new batch of teachers step in, who are prepared to teach Maths & Science in English, the system changes to BM. Then 20 years from now, it'll change again when we are said to be incompetent in using English. And the cycle goes on and on. The fact is that Malaysian Education is never conclusive and entrench in whatever decision that is made. In the end, unnecessary changes are made. New textbooks need to be written etc etc, bearing rather a very high costs.

But to me, it is no need for the government to change the language. Some says the outskirts suffer because of this, I don't deny that-some teachers teaching maths & science find that they are teaching English Language instead of the subject!- but seriously man, they failed to see that this is the batch that didn't start using English since Primary One, so their fundamental skills are not there. As for those in the outskirts who are still young, who have learnt Maths and Science in English since Standard 1,they should be better off prepared.

In the end, Science and Maths changes back to BM. I just wonder, why are they not focusing on changing the syllabus to less exam-orientated. Instead of changing the language, they should change the syllabus first.
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  #69 Old 11-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

I see a lot of assumptions being made everywhere.

Many of us assume that the product of our education system can't compete internationally because of their incompetency in discussing, reading and writing science in English language.

Many of us assume that the reason behind this is that we don't teach our maths and science in English.

Many of us assume that by having all our kids learn science and maths in English from day 1, they will then grow up being fluent in English science-speak and be able to catch up with our western counterparts in the scientific academia.

Many of us assume that this is THE crucial weakness of our science education.

Many of us assume that having more people capable of English science-speak is the be all and end all, the superhighway to prosperity and technological advancement.

Please examine these assumptions.

*****

Let me quote one of the stories in "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" with regards to the teaching of science. Let's see if it sounds familiar.
Quote:
In regard to education in Brazil, I had a very interesting experience.
I was teaching a group of students who would ultimately become teachers,
since at that time there were not many opportunities in Brazil for a highly
trained person in science. These students had already had many courses, and
this was to be their most advanced course in electricity and magnetism --
Maxwell's equations, and so on.

The university was located in various office buildings throughout the
city, and the course I taught met in a building which overlooked the bay.

I discovered a very strange phenomenon: I could ask a question, which
the students would answer immediately. But the next time I would ask the
question -- the same subject, and the same question, as far as I could tell
-- they couldn't answer it at all! For instance, one time I was talking
about polarized light, and I gave them all some strips of polaroid.

Polaroid passes only light whose electric vector is in a certain
direction, so I explained how you could tell which way the light is
polarized from whether the polaroid is dark or light.

We first took two strips of polaroid and rotated them until they let
the most light through. From doing that we could tell that the two strips
were now admitting light polarized in the same direction -- what passed
through one piece of polaroid could also pass through the other. But then I
asked them how one could tell the absolute direction of polarization, for a
single piece of polaroid.

They hadn't any idea.

I knew this took a certain amount of ingenuity, so I gave them a hint:
"Look at the light reflected from the bay outside."

Nobody said anything.

Then I said, "Have you ever heard of Brewster's Angle?"

"Yes, sir! Brewster's Angle is the angle at which light reflected from
a medium with an index of refraction is completely polarized."

"And which way is the light polarized when it's reflected?"

"The light is polarized perpendicular to the plane of reflection, sir."
Even now, I have to think about it; they knew it cold! They even knew the
tangent of the angle equals the index!

I said, "Well?"

Still nothing. They had just told me that light reflected from a medium
with an index, such as the bay outside, was polarized; they had even told me
which way it was polarized.

I said, "Look at the bay outside, through the polaroid. Now turn the
polaroid."

"Ooh, it's polarized!" they said.

After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students
had memorized everything, but they didn't know what anything meant. When
they heard "light that is reflected from a medium with an index," they
didn't know that it meant a material such as water. They didn't know that
the "direction of the light" is the direction in which you see something
when you're looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet
nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So if I asked, "What is
Brewster's Angle?" I'm going into the computer with the right keywords. But
if I say, "Look at the water," nothing happens -- they don't have anything
under "Look at the water"!

Later I attended a lecture at the engineering school. The lecture went
like this, translated into English: "Two bodies... are considered
equivalent... if equal torques... will produce... equal acceleration. Two
bodies, are considered equivalent, if equal torques, will produce equal
acceleration." The students were all sitting there taking dictation, and
when the professor repeated the sentence, they checked it to make sure they
wrote it down all right. Then they wrote down the next sentence, and on and
on. I was the only one who knew the professor was talking about objects with
the same moment of inertia, and it was hard to figure out.

I didn't see how they were going to learn anything from that. Here he
was talking about moments of inertia, but there was no discussion about how
hard it is to push a door open when you put heavy weights on the outside,
compared to when you put them near the hinge -- nothing!

After the lecture, I talked to a student: "You take all those notes --
what do you do with them?"

"Oh, we study them," he says. "We'll have an exam."

"What will the exam be like?"

"Very easy. I can tell you now one of the questions." He looks at his
notebook and says, " 'When are two bodies equivalent?' And the answer is,
'Two bodies are considered equivalent if equal torques will produce equal
acceleration.' " So, you see, they could pass the examinations, and "learn"
all this stuff, and not know anything at all, except what they had
memorized.

Then I went to an entrance exam for students coming into the
engineering school. It was an oral exam, and I was allowed to listen to it.
One of the students was absolutely super: He answered everything nifty! The
examiners asked him what diamagnetism was, and he answered it perfectly.
Then they asked, "When light comes at an angle through a sheet of material
with a certain thickness, and a certain index N, what happens to the light?"

"It comes out parallel to itself, sir -- displaced."

"And how much is it displaced?"

"I don't know, sir, but I can figure it out." So he figured it out. He
was very good. But I had, by this time, my suspicions.

After the exam I went up to this bright young man, and explained to him
that I was from the United States, and that I wanted to ask him some
questions that would not affect the result of his examination in any way.
The first question I ask is, "Can you give me some example of a diamagnetic
substance?"

"No."

Then I asked, "If this book was made of glass, and I was looking at
something on the table through it, what would happen to the image if I
tilted the glass?"

"It would be deflected, sir, by twice the angle that you've turned the
book."

I said, "You haven't got it mixed up with a mirror, have you?"

"No, sir!"

He had just told me in the examination that the light would be
displaced, parallel to itself, and therefore the image would move over to
one side, but would not be turned by any angle. He had even figured out how
much it would be displaced, but he didn't realize that a piece of glass is a
material with an index, and that his calculation had applied to my question.

I taught a course at the engineering school on mathematical methods in
physics, in which I tried to show how to solve problems by trial and error.
It's something that people don't usually learn, so I began with some simple
examples of arithmetic to illustrate the method. I was surprised that only
about eight out of the eighty or so students turned in the first assignment.
So I gave a strong lecture about having to actually try it, not just sit
back and watch me do it.

After the lecture some students came up to me in a little delegation,
and told me that I didn't understand the backgrounds that they have, that
they can study without doing the problems, that they have already learned
arithmetic, and that this stuff was beneath them.

So I kept going with the class, and no matter how complicated or
obviously advanced the work was becoming, they were never handing a damn
thing in. Of course I realized what it was: They couldn't do it!

One other thing I could never get them to do was to ask questions.
Finally, a student explained it to me: "If I ask you a question during the
lecture, afterwards everybody will be telling me, 'What are you wasting our
time for in the class? We're trying to learn something. And you're stopping
him by asking a question'."

It was a kind of one-upmanship, where nobody knows what's going on, and
they'd put the other one down as if they did know. They all fake that they
know, and if one student admits for a moment that something is confusing by
asking a question, the others take a high-handed attitude, acting as if it's
not confusing at all, telling him that he's wasting their time.

I explained how useful it was to work together, to discuss the
questions, to talk it over, but they wouldn't do that either, because they
would be losing face if they had to ask someone else. It was pitiful! All
the work they did, intelligent people, but they got themselves into this
funny state of mind, this strange kind of self-propagating "education" which
is meaningless, utterly meaningless!

At the end of the academic year, the students asked me to give a talk
about my experiences of teaching in Brazil. At the talk there would be not
only students, but professors and government officials, so I made them
promise that I could say whatever I wanted. They said, "Sure. Of course.
It's a free country."

So I came in, carrying the elementary physics textbook that they used
in the first year of college. They thought this book was especially good
because it had different kinds of typeface -- bold black for the most
important things to remember, lighter for less important things, and so on.

Right away somebody said, "You're not going to say anything bad about
the textbook, are you? The man who wrote it is here, and everybody thinks
it's a good textbook."

"You promised I could say whatever I wanted."

The lecture hall was full. I started out by defining science as an
understanding of the behavior of nature. Then I asked, "What is a good
reason for teaching science? Of course, no country can consider itself
civilized unless... yak, yak, yak." They were all sitting there nodding,
because I know that's the way they think.

Then I say, "That, of course, is absurd, because why should we feel we
have to keep up with another country? We have to do it for a good reason, a
sensible reason; not just because other countries do." Then I talked about
the utility of science, and its contribution to the improvement of the human
condition, and all that -- I really teased them a little bit.

Then I say, "The main purpose of my talk is to demonstrate to you that
no science is being taught in Brazil!"

I can see them stir, thinking, "What? No science? This is absolutely
crazy! We have all these classes."

So I tell them that one of the first things to strike me when I came to
Brazil was to see elementary school kids in bookstores, buying physics
books. There are so many kids learning physics in Brazil, beginning much
earlier than kids do in the United States, that it's amazing you don't find
many physicists in Brazil -- why is that? So many kids are working so hard,
and nothing comes of it.

Then I gave the analogy of a Greek scholar who loves the Greek
language, who knows that in his own country there aren't many children
studying Greek. But he comes to another country, where he is delighted to
find everybody studying Greek -- even the smaller kids in the elementary
schools. He goes to the examination of a student who is coming to get his
degree in Greek, and asks him, "What were Socrates' ideas on the
relationship between Truth and Beauty?" -- and the student can't answer.
Then he asks the student, "What did Socrates say to Plato in the Third
Symposium?" the student lights up and goes, "Brrrrrrrrr-up" -- he tells you
everything, word for word, that Socrates said, in beautiful Greek.

But what Socrates was talking about in the Third Symposium was the
relationship between Truth and Beauty!

What this Greek scholar discovers is, the students in another country
learn Greek by first learning to pronounce the letters, then the words, and
then sentences and paragraphs. They can recite, word for word, what Socrates
said, without realizing that those Greek words actually mean something. To
the student they are all artificial sounds. Nobody has ever translated them
into words the students can understand.

I said, "That's how it looks to me, when I see you teaching the kids
'science' here in Brazil." (Big blast, right?)

Then I held up the elementary physics textbook they were using. "There
are no experimental results mentioned anywhere in this book, except in one
place where there is a ball, rolling down an inclined plane, in which it
says how far the ball got after one second, two seconds, three seconds, and
so on. The numbers have 'errors' in them -- that is, if you look at them,
you think you're looking at experimental results, because the numbers are a
little above, or a little below, the theoretical values. The book even talks
about having to correct the experimental errors -- very fine. The trouble
is, when you calculate the value of the acceleration constant from these
values, you get the right answer. But a ball rolling down an inclined plane,
if it is actually done, has an inertia to get it to turn, and will, if you
do the experiment, produce five-sevenths of the right answer, because of the
extra energy needed to go into the rotation of the ball. Therefore this
single example of experimental 'results' is obtained from a fake experiment.
Nobody had rolled such a ball, or they would never have gotten those
results!

"I have discovered something else," I continued. "By flipping the pages
at random, and putting my finger in and reading the sentences on that page,
I can show you what's the matter -- how it's not science, but memorizing, in
every circumstance. Therefore I am brave enough to flip through the pages
now, in front of this audience, to put my finger in, to read, and to show
you."

So I did it. Brrrrrrrup -- I stuck my finger in, and I started to read:
"Triboluminescence. Triboluminescence is the light emitted when crystals are
crushed..."

I said, "And there, have you got science? No! You have only told what a
word means in terms of other words. You haven't told anything about nature
-- what crystals produce light when you crush them, why they produce light.
Did you see any student go home and try it? He can't.

"But if, instead, you were to write, 'When you take a lump of sugar and
crush it with a pair of pliers in the dark, you can see a bluish flash. Some
other crystals do that too. Nobody knows why. The phenomenon is called
"triboluminescence." ' Then someone will go home and try it. Then there's an
experience of nature." I used that example to show them, but it didn't make
any difference where I would have put my finger in the book; it was like
that everywhere.

Finally, I said that I couldn't see how anyone could be educated by
this self-propagating system in which people pass exams, and teach others to
pass exams, but nobody knows anything. "However," I said, "I must be wrong.
There were two Students in my class who did very well, and one of the
physicists I know was educated entirely in Brazil. Thus, it must be possible
for some people to work their way through the system, bad as it is."

Well, after I gave the talk, the head of the science education
department got up and said, "Mr. Feynman has told us some things that are
very hard for us to hear, but it appears to be that he really loves science,
and is sincere in his criticism. Therefore, I think we should listen to him.
I came here knowing we have some sickness in our system of education; what I
have learned is that we have a cancer!" -- and he sat down.

That gave other people the freedom to speak out, and there was a big
excitement. Everybody was getting up and making suggestions. The students
got some committee together to mimeograph the lectures in advance, and they
got other committees organized to do this and that.

Then something happened which was totally unexpected for me. One of the
students got up and said, "I'm one of the two students whom Mr. Feynman
referred to at the end of his talk. I was not educated in Brazil; I was
educated in Germany, and I've just come to Brazil this year."

The other student who had done well in class had a similar thing to
say. And the professor I had mentioned got up and said, "I was educated here
in Brazil during the war, when, fortunately, all of the professors had left
the university, so I learned everything by reading alone. Therefore I was
not really educated under the Brazilian system."

I didn't expect that. I knew the system was bad, but 100 percent -- it
was terrible!

Since I had gone to Brazil under a program sponsored by the United
States Government, I was asked by the State Department to write a report
about my experiences in Brazil, so I wrote out the essentials of the speech
I had just given. I found out later through the grapevine that the reaction
of somebody in the State Department was, "That shows you how dangerous it is
to send somebody to Brazil who is so naive. Foolish fellow; he can only
cause trouble. He didn't understand the problems." Quite the contrary! I
think this person in the State Department was naive to think that because he
saw a university with a list of courses and descriptions, that's what it
was.
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  #70 Old 11-07-2009 Default Re: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in BM year 2012

Just for fun - this is my assumption list - modified from youngyew's.

I assume that the product of our education system can't compete internationally because of their incompetency in discussing, reading and writing science.

I assume that the reason behind this is that we don't teach our maths and science adequately in schools.

I assume that by having all our kids learn science and maths properly, we may be able to catch up with our western counterparts in the scientific academia.

I assume that this is THE crucial weakness of our science education.

I assume that having more people capable of thinking is the be all and end all, the superhighway to prosperity and technological advancement.

---------
edit : off topic question - how do you strikeout words in posts? I mean, put a line through certain phrases. Would have been so. much. cooler.

Last edited by eve88; 11-07-2009 at 05:19 PM.
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