Thousands of students around the world celebrate Pi Day today, but local math students in Singapore can only dream of being part of this annual mathematical event. Singapore math students, teachers, and parents don’t (and can’t) celebrate Pi Day, as long as they officially follow the British style of writing their dates (DD/MM/YY).
What makes matters worse is that this year, Pi Day falls on the first day of the one-week school break, which makes it almost impossible for hardcore math teachers, who want to buck the calendrical trend, to get their students excited about the properties and beauties of the number Pi.
Until Singapore switches to the American style of writing dates (MM/DD/YY), which may not happen, at least during my lifetime, however, this shouldn’t prevent us from evangelizing the gospel of Pi among the local student population.
Here are seven e-gifts of the holy Pi, which I started musing about 314 minutes ago on this Pi Day.
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
A rectangular enclosure is 30 meters wide and 50 meters long. Calculate its area in square meters.
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!
A Singapore Ex-Minister’s Math Book
Dr. Yeo had the handwriting below depicted in his recreational math book, regarding his two granddaughters, Rebecca and Kathryn.
Composing some Theomatics-related haikus may prove therapeutic for stressful math educators, who are prone to overusing their left part of the brain. Why not let these 17-syllabled verses reactivate some atrophied part of your grey matter? Who knows? This right-brained activity may indirectly help rekindle your mathematical creativity!
The True Living God
Ever Three and ever One
A mystery, indeed!
Christ And Mathematics Education (C.A.M.E)
Come to worship Him
Christ and math education
Teach math Christianly
As an act of true worship
It sure honors Him
Two Conference Proceedings of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences (ACMS)