Thursday, April 30, 2009

When kids trump adults

When Monica emailed me a couple of days back to ask about this question from Nanyang Prelim 2008 (I didn't do this paper, but Brian did) that stumped her, I bugged her to try that school's Killer 2007 paper, cos that paper totally slayed me.

Brian and I did the Nanyang Prelim 2007 paper together at the end of last year. At the time, I sensed that he wasn't happy to be left alone to do work while the rest of us were either playing (Sean), watching TV (Ed) or surfing the internet (me).
He was not focussed at all, kept making silly mistakes. So I started sitting together with him, doing the tests together. He relished the competition (or maybe it was just about Equal Misery), and was so focussed and made far less careless mistakes.

Our relationship improved so much then. He was so good after that, not so snappy and angry, and not always upset with Sean. But Sean got neglected a lot. And after a while, I stopped sitting together with him, cos lost momentum, plus he is able to work alone now and even checks his work as best as he can, using all the time allocated.

And I haven't blogged about a major spat we had a week plus ago, basically bottom-line is he wants to do his own revision, Mom's not needed anymore. Yes, I've become dispensable.

Back to the killer paper, I remember after the first hour or so, just sitting there waiting for him to complete his paper, cos I was done. Done as in FRIED; I couldn't do almost ALL of the questions in Section C.

Brian got about 80 on that paper. And Model Mum Monica? She got 73, that's not Band 1, and she is an A* calibre mathematician. Monica calls me out on this in her post about this exam paper, so since I've revealed my dismal results there, I'll also reveal it here.

I got a GRAND total of 55 marks! How ridiculous is that??

Yesterday, when Monica told me she got more than 70, I thought, hmmm, it's been some months, I think I've gotten better at this, so I tried doing the paper again, and got less than 50! I got Brian to try again and this time, he got 93 even though he said he had forgotten all the questions.

Why did I do worse after all these months while Brian did better? The difference between Brian and I is that since end-2008, he has been practising on more papers and I haven't. He's also taken part in a couple of math competitions which seemed to have helped a lot in his mathematical thinking, even though those are American competitions.

So let that be a lesson to all, use it or lose it! And parents reading this, know just how tough things are for our kids these days, and cut them a little bit of slack every now and then. As I commented in Mon's post, I have the utmost, greatest, respect for Singapore kids. This is only Math, I'm sure all the other subjects are equally, if not more, demanding.


monlim said...

Lilian, you've hit the nail on the head. It's really about practice, practice, practice. I couldn't do the speed question at all but I suspect the kids would be taught some method of finding collisions, etc, which I don't know about.

Anyway, it's a humbling experience for us parents which I think is good every once in a while, to help us adjust our expectations of our kids :)

Lilian said...

Very humbling yes.

Practice is so important, isn't it? Like Gladwell said, it's that 10000 hour thing again. to practise English Compo? That's a tough one.

monlim said...

Haha, it always comes back to English compo for Brian eh? I dunno leh... if I knew the magic formula, I wouldn't have the problem with Andre...

Lilian said...

Yeah yeah, this point, he'd rather be assigned anything, as long as it's not Singapore English compo.