Future of Mathematics in Junior Colleges

I’ve been teaching H2/ H1 Mathematics for 6 years and the past year papers clearly indicates that they are interested in finding out if students do understand their learning. In my opinion, Mathematics can be studied in several ways, mainly by technical means or academic means.

Technical means will be a students sitting down in Starbucks and do questions from the same topic for the entire day. Some extreme cases will be those that asks me directly for answers keys and regurgitate the model answers. To me, this is unhealthy as students are very limited to the type of questions they are capable of handling. And judging from the past year papers, they will end up with a B only.

Academic means will be a students understanding and appreciating the concepts of how to handle this topic. As I previously shared, H2 math classes that I conduct focuses a lot on handling the concepts, i.e., learning the topic by understanding. And then applying this learnt concepts to solving the questions. This enables students to stretch their abilities. Not to mention, students must also understand that the questions don’t test topically. We see from this question that A-level can mash and test a few topic in one question. So students must be able to look at H2 Mathematics as a subject, instead of topics.

I feel that in 2-3 years time, the syllabus might have an overhaul again. Also the old syllabus of F Mathematics and C Mathematics is very good, and more can be done for H2/ H1 Mathematics by bringing some of the removed topics. Similarly, the lack of focus given to Statistics in H2/ H1 Mathematics is simply sad. And I do think that it will not be long before Ministry of Education begins to introduce Statistics as a subject and Pure Mathematics as another. These two subjects might be stand alone subjects too, allowing students more focus and variety. We already see this being done with H2 Computing, albeit little success.

When this changes take place, students who religiously mug their Ten Year Series, read them will definitely suffer a lot. Thus, I always advise students to keep questioning what they are learning and to ask sparingly.

P.S. I recently gave a few students an assignment: to at least ask me 7 questions weekly. Be it conceptual questions or a practice question.

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