Writing About Education And Life

Monday, 14 May 2018

Breakthrough Mathematics




Many parents, whose children have been failing Mathematics for over a year, worry and fear that their children can never master Mathematics. This fear is not unfounded because the mastery of Mathematics at a higher level is dependent on the mastery of Mathematics at a lower level. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before negative assumptions concretise and became a part of their belief system. Check yourself if you believe in any of the following assumptions:

*Mathematics is tough.
*My child/student is not cut out for Math.
*My family/student’s family has never been good at Math, so I expect my child/student to be weak at Math.
*Only intelligent people can master Mathematics.
*Weak students cannot never master Math ever.
*Weak students can only be helped 1-to-1, even then after a very long time.
*Only some weak students can improve in their scores.
*My child/student has never been good at Math. Hence, he/she will most likely fail his exam this year. 
*Some kids are born to master Math while some are not.
*It is impossible for drastic improvement to be achieved in 3 months (eg. F to A).


Do you believe in any of the assumptions above? If you do, no matter how logical you think you are, you are probably a part of the problem. In fact, if you are a teacher/tutor and you believe in any of the above assumptions, you must in all honesty and sincerity rethink these assumptions or leave teaching/tutoring profession. Why? Because you are a direct cause for non-mastery by your students of the subjects you teach. No matter how you defend yourself thinking that your assumptions are both logical and true, the reality is that your student expectations are hindering the student achievement levels. You got to do justice – either destroy the glass ceiling or leave the profession.

What if you are a parent who believe in some of the assumptions? Well, this is what I am dealing with for years. If I am your child’s teacher, I will have him/her mentally compartmentalise you – “Your parents do not understand your situation, the journey of mastering mathematics, and that’s why they think you cannot master Mathematics.” So I compartmentalise such parents so as to attack the glass ceiling. This weakens the glass ceiling and with time, as the child improves and excels, the glass ceiling disappears, as if it had never existed.

In education jargon, you can say that Breakthrough Mathematics is a teaching-learning approach that shares many similarities with Mastery Learning, a model of learning discussed by John Caroll and Benjamin Bloom in the 1960s. When I stumbled upon Breakthrough Mathematics, through trial and error, I did not know about Mastery Learning. It is only in the last 5 years that I realise that my approach of teaching Mathematics, which has caused failures to breakthrough and master Math (ie. Breakthrough Mathematics), is based on 2 models of teaching/learning, and they are Mastery Learning and the Self Concept approach. While Mastery Learning can be relatively easy to be researched and understood, it is the Self Concept approach which contains many “mysteries”. To explain it fully, I need to write a full book and so here I do it in pieces. Do look out for Breakthrough Mathematics articles such as this. 

Anyway, if your child is facing problems with PSLE Math and you are really worried about what to do, read on below about the programmes I offer. Perhaps you may want him to try out some of these classes.