Tag Archives: joke

Anything Funny about Singapore Math?

Math educators, especially stressed [often self-inflicted] local teachers in Singapore, are always on the look-out for something funny or humorous to spice up their oft-boring math lessons. At least, this is the general feeling I get when I meet up with fellow teachers, who seem to be short of fertile resources; however, most are dead serious to do whatever it takes to make their teaching lessons fun and memorable.

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© Sidney Harris Sea animals are mathematical, too!

It’s often said that local Singapore math teachers are the world’s most hardworking (and arguably the world’s “most qualified” as well)—apparently, they teach the most number of hours, as compared with their peers in other countries—but for the majority of them, their drill-and-kill lessons are boring like a piece of wood. It’s as if the part of their brain responsible for creativity and fun had long been atrophied. A large number of them look like their enthusiasm for the subject have extinguished decades ago, and teaching math until their last paycheck seems like a decent job to paying the mortgages and to pampering themselves with one or two dear overseas trips every other year with their loved ones.

Indeed, Singapore math has never been known to be interesting, fun, or creative, at least this is the canned perception of thousands of local math teachers and tutors—they just want to over-prepare their students to be exam-smart and to score well. The task of educating their students to love or appreciate the beauty and power of the subject is often relegated to outsiders (enrichment and olympiad math trainers), who supposedly have more time to enrich their students with their extra-mathematical activities.

Singapore Math via Humor

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© Sidney Harris The lost art of Roman numerals

A prisoner of war in World War II, Sidney Harris is one of the few artists who seems to have got a good grasp of math and science. While school math may not be funny, math needn’t be serious for the rest of us, who may not tell the difference between mathematical writing and mathematics writing, or between ratio and proportion. Let Sidney Harris show you why a lot of things about serious math are dead funny. Mathematicians tend to take themselves very seriously, which is itself a funny thing, but S. Harris shows us through his cartoons how these symbol-minded men and women are a funny awful lot.

Angel: “I’m beginning to understand eternity, but infinity is still beyond me.”

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© Sidney Harris There is nothing new under the mathematical sun!
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© Sidney Harris Isn’t mathematics just a man-made game?
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© Sidney Harris The world’s first “mathematical plagiarizer”
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© Sidney Harris The aftermath of Pi addiction
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© Sidney Harris Maybe we’d soon spot some bunnies running around!
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© Sidney Harris Some step just needs to be accepted on faith!
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© Sidney Harris Who says mathematicians don’t need drugs?

Mathematical humor is a serious (and dangerous) business, which few want to invest their time in, because it often requires an indecent number of man- or woman-hours to put their grey matter to work in order to produce something even half-decently original or creative. The choice is yours: mediocrity or creativity?

Humorously and irreverently yours

References
Adams, D. S. (2014). Lab math. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
Harris, S. (1970). What’s so funny about science? Los Altos, Ca.: Wm. Kaufmann, Inc.

© Yan Kow Cheong, August 20, 2015.

Check out an inexpensive (but risky) way to make a Singapore math lesson less boring: The Use of Humor in Mathematics. The author would be glad to visit local schools and tuition centers to conduct in-service three-hour math courses for fellow primary and secondary math teachers, who long to bring some humor to their everyday mathematical classrooms—as part of their annual 100 hours professional upgrading. Please use his e-mail coordinates on the Contact page.

The Lighter Side of Innumeracy

Scanning a QR Code may still work!
Scanning a QR Code may still work! From: Scott Stratten’s “QR Codes Kill Kittens

Most of us may not admit it, but we’ve all fallen victim to the lure of innumeracy—the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy—consciously or unconsciously. Here are twenty of my favorite innumerate events I often witness among my numerate and semi-numerate friends, colleagues, and relatives.

• Taking a 45-minute train journey to save a few dollars at Carrefour or Walmart.

• Lining up for hours (or even days, if you’re in China?) to buy an iPhone or iPad.

• Paying a numerologist or geomancy crank to divine your “lucky” and “unlucky” days.

The Largest Four-Digit Number
What is the smallest and the largest four-digit number?

• Visiting a feng-shui master to offer advice how best to arrange your furniture at home, or in your office, to ward off negative or “unwanted energies.”

• Buying similar items in bulk at discounted prices, which you don’t need but because they’re cheap.

• Offering foods to idols [aka gods and goddesses] in the hope that they’ll bring you good luck and prosperity in return.

• Offering gifts to hungry [angry?] ghosts to appease them lest they come back to harm you and your loved ones.

• Buying insurance policies against alien abduction, meteorites, biological warfare, or the enslavement of the apocalyptic Beast.

• Filling up lucky draw vouchers, by providing your personal particulars for future pests-marketeers and time-sharing consultants.

The Hello Kitty Syndrome in Singapore
The Hello Kitty Syndrome in Singapore—Purchase of no more than four sets per customer will start past midnight!

• Betting on horses, football, stocks, and the like—any get-rich activities that may cut short a 30-year working life, slaving for your mean or half-ethical bosses 9-to-6 every day.

• Buying lottery tickets to short-circuiting hard work, or to retiring prematurely.

• Going on annual pilgrimages to seeking blessing from some deities, prophets, saints, or animal spirits.

• Outsourcing your thinking to self-help gurus or motivational coaches.

• Going for prices that end in 99 cents, or acquiring auctioned items that are priced at $88 or $888—the number 8 is deemed auspicious among superstitious Chinese.

Always give more than 100%!
An NIE motto to innumerate undergrads: “Always give more than 100%!”

• Replying to spam mails from conmen and “widows” from Nigeria, Russia, or China, who are exceedingly generous to transfer half of their inherited money to your bank account.

• Taking a half-day leave from work, or faking sickness to visit the doctor, to line up for hours to buy McDonald Hello Kitties.

• Lining up overnight to buy the latest model of a game console, or to secure an apartment unit of a newly built condominium. 

• Enrolling for courses that cost over a thousand bucks to learn “Effective Study Habits of Highly Successful Students.”

• Postponing all important meetings, or avoiding air traveling, on a Friday the thirteenth

• Canceling all major business dealings, weddings, or product launches during the Ghost (or Seventh) Month.

Now is your turn to share with the mathematical brethren at least half a dozen of your pet innumerate activities—those numerical idiocies or idiosyncrasies— that you (or your loved ones) were indulged in at some not-too-distant point in the past.

© Yan Kow Cheong, November 10, 2014.

Big numbers do lie!
Big numbers tend to lie better! (© Scott Stratten)

Some Fun with Stewart Francis’s Puns

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www.cafepress.com

In my formative years, I don’t recall any elementary school teachers sharing some mathematical puns with us. I suppose that the arithmetic of yesteryear was often taught in the most uninteresting way by many who probably didn’t look forward to teaching it to a bunch of noisy kids.

Recently, while reading Stewart Francis’s Pun direction: Over 500 of his greatest gags…and four crap ones!,  I came across a number of numerical puns that might even be appreciated by some nerdy seven-year-olds. Stewart Francis is considered to be the best Canadian comedian from Southern Ontario. Here are two dozen odd math-related puns I’ve stolen from his punny book. Hope you enjoy them!

The number of twins being born has doubled.

They also stole my calculator,
which doesn’t add up.

Four out of ten people are used in surveys. Six are not.

Crime in lifts is on the rise.

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“QED Gravestone Small Poster” www.cafepress.com

I recently overcame my fear of calculators
It was a twelve-step progra
m.

Women are attracted to foreign men. I’ve heard that at least uno, dos, tres times.

All seventeen of my doctors say I have an addictive personality.

There’s a slim chance my sister’s anorexic.

Truthfully, we met at a chess match, where she made the first move.

Is my wife dissatisfied with my body? A tiny part of me says yes.

I read that ten out of two people are dyslexic.

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From: wherethepunis.com

They now have a website for stutterers, it’s
wwwdotwwwdotwwwdotwwwdotdotdot.

I have mixed race parents, my father prefers the 100 metres.

I’m the youngest of three, my parents are both older.

Clichés are a dime a dozen.

I’m an underachiever 24-6.

I used to recycle calendars.
Those were the days.

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www.cafepress.com

I’ve learned two things in life.
The second, is to never cut corners.

‘Any man who lives his life in accordance to a book is a fool.’
Luke 317

I can say ‘No one likes a show off’ in forty-three languages.

I was once late because of
high-fiving a centipede.

Of the twenty-seven
students in my maths class,
I was the only one who failed.
What are the odds of that, one
in a million?

I’ve met some cynical people
in my twenty-eight years.

I was good at history.
Wait a minute, no, no I wasn’t.

I was terrible at school. I failed
maths so many times, I can’t even
count.

Reference
Francis, S. (2913). Pun direction: Over 500 of his greatest gags…and four crap ones! London: Headline Publishing Group.

© Yan Kow Cheong, March 19, 2014.

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The Lighter Side of Singapore Math (Part 5)

Elementary Math from an Advanced Standpoint

A Grade 4 Question

Ken has 69 planks that are of standard size. He would need 5 such planks to make a bookshelf. What is the most number of bookshelves Ken can make?

Method 1

Let x be the number of bookshelves Ken can make.

5x ≤ 69
5x/5 ≤ 69/5
x ≤ 13 4/5

So the maximum whole number that satisfies the inequality x ≤ 13 4/5 is 13.

Hence the most number of bookshelves is 13.

 

Method 2

Using the floor function, the most number of bookshelves is ⎣69/5⎦ = 13.

 

A Grade Two Question

Verify that 2 × 2 = 4.

Basic hint: Use the FOIL method.
Intermediate hint: Use area.
Advanced hint: Use axioms (à la Whitehead and Russell)

Solution

Using the FOIL method

2 × 2
= (1 + 1) × (1 + 1)
= 1 × 1 + 1 × 1 + 1 × 1 + 1 × 1
= 1 + 1 + 1 + 1
= 4   QED

 

A Grade Four Question

A rectangular enclosure is 30 meters wide and 50 meters long. Calculate its area in square meters.

Solution

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The My Pals Are Here Math Series

The My Pals Are Here series has been rumored to have been edited and ghostwritten by a hundred odd editors and freelancers in the last decade.

Lack of mathematical rigor was initially targeted against Dr. Fong Ho Kheong and his two co-authors by American profs in the first or/and second editions —probably by those who were “ghost advisors or consultants” for Everyday Math.

 

Deconstructing the Singapore Model Method

1. It’s a problem-solving strategy—a subset of the “Draw a diagram” strategy.

2. It’s a hybrid of China’s line method and Russia’s box (or US’s bar) method.

3. It’s the “Draw a diagram” strategy, which has attained a brand status in mathematics education circles.

4. It’s a problem-solving method that isn’t recommended for visually challenged or impaired learners.

5. It allows questions traditionally set at higher grades (using algebra) to be posed at lower grades (using bars).

 

Painless Singapore Math

Perhaps that’s how we’d promote Singapore math to an often-mathophobic audience!

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A Singapore Ex-Minister’s Math Book

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Dr. Yeo had the handwriting below depicted in his recreational math book, regarding his two granddaughters, Rebecca and Kathryn.

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References

Yan, K. C. (2013). The lighter side of Singapore math (Part 4). December 2013. http://www.singaporemathplus.com/2013/12/the-lighter-side-of-singapore-math-part.html

Yeo, A. (2006). The pleasures of pi, e and other interesting numbers. Singapore: World Scientific.

© Yan Kow Cheong, December 30, 2013.

Life’s Simple Mathematical Pleasures

Stealing the idea from Nancy Vu’s “Just Little Things,” I tried to reflect on some mathematical things that give us delight and pleasure as we go about our hectic 24/7/365 lives.

Here are some of my personal mathematical pleasures.

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It’s now your turn to reflect on some aha! mathematical moments  to share with the rest of us.

References

Wu, N. (2013). Just little things: A celebration of life’s simple pleasures. New York: A Perigee Book.

JustLittleThings.net

© Yan Kow Cheong, November 10, 2013.