How to develop students’ interest in mathematics

For interest in Math, it is totally understandable that many students may find math boring. One way to overcome it is to try to think of each Math question like a puzzle or game (like a Sudoku or Crossword Puzzle). Solving a Math question correctly should bring joy and a sense of achievement just like completing a stage of a game or a puzzle. And the more questions one solves, the better one gets at it.
“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.”
― Bertrand Russell
In the Singapore context, basically, Math is quite compulsory in SG education system (up till JC, even arts subject combinations requires math), but once JC is over one can skip Math entirely in university. So a secondary student just have to work hard for math for the upcoming few years, and “get it over with”, if he/she really does not like math. Similarly for Chinese, students need to work hard up till Secondary 4, score well and be exempted in JC. Math can be considered the “easiest” subject to get A, as long as one gets the answer correct he/she will get the full marks, many students complain that getting A for English or other humanities subjects like Literature is much harder due to strict or subjective marking.
The important thing is not to give up. Currently, in the Singapore education system it is quite common for students to “fail” exams (fail as in score below 50), especially in secondary school and JC internal exams. It is very possible to improve upon working hard after the failure.
“Trust me, its normal, I never passed a single A math test/exam during my sec 3/4 school years, got A2 for O levels in the end. (Mugged really hard after prelims) What matters is understanding the content I feel.”
– This student never passed a single A math test/exam up till prelims but eventually got A2 for O levels after “mugging” really hard after prelims.
Source: Reddit
trust me youre not alone. from mid sec 3 to prelims in sec 4 i got F9 all the way. but then in the end i got an A2 in olevels. one thing u need to know is to NEVER stop believing in yourself. keep on pushing urself all the way till the finishing point. aft seeing my score for prelims, i alm gave up but i told myself to atleast PASS amaths and i’d be satisfied with it. i started spamming my TYS, practice as much as i could. never give up and whenever in doubt just ask ur cher. it rly helps! atb and ik u can do it:))
Source: Reddit
dude chill. i got 8% for mye in sec 3 for A Math. form teacher told me drop the subject, but i didnt. ended up o level got A2. just do work given and practice more.
– This guy even more “power”, he got just 8/100 for Mid-year exams, but improved to A2 in O Levels.
Source: Reddit

4-day work week among ideas to improve work-life balance (Singapore)

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/4-day-work-week-among-ideas-to-improve-work-life-balance-here

Sounds like a good idea, to improve work-life balance and potentially solve several other problems like low birth rate (which will alleviate the problem of aging society).

Many people have the illusion that industrialization and technology have improved the work-life balance of ordinary workers, however the reality is quite the opposite.

Before industrialization, workers worked less hours and had more leisure time.

Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time.

Source: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html

The worst period seems to be right in the middle of the industrial revolution, the mid 1800s. Workers worked up to 70 hour work weeks (with low pay). Most of the profit went to the rich capitalists.

One of capitalism’s most durable myths is that it has reduced human toil.

http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html

Jack Ma once said:

People could work as little as three days a week, four hours a day with the help of technology.

Jack Ma (Economic Times)

Will this age ever come? Note that Jack Ma in another speech endorsed China’s 996 culture, which is to work from 9am to 9pm six days a week (CNN).

Philosophically, it seems that no technology will be able to eliminate work? It is the so called “Adam’s curse”:

He told the man, “Because you have listened to what your wife said, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. You’ll eat from it through pain-filled labor for the rest of your life.

International Standard Version

Motivational Quote: Work can never be completed

The following are some motivational quotes by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India. The source is from Pinterest. I have also translated some of the quotes into Chinese.

I believe the quotes make perfect sense! Hope you find it motivational and useful as well.


Love your job but don’t love your company, because you may not know when your company stops loving you.

热爱你的工作,但不要爱你的公司,因为你不知道公司何时停止爱你。


Work is a never-ending process. It can never be completed.

工作是一个永无止境的过程。 它永远无法完成。

Interest of a client is important, so is your family.

客户的利益很重要,您的家人也很重要。

If you fall in your life, neither your boss nor client will offer you a helping hand; your family and friends will.

如果你在生活上遇到挫折,老板和客户都不会给你帮助;您的家人和朋友会。

Life is not only about work, office and client. There is more to life. You need time to socialize, entertain, relax and exercise. Don’t let life be meaningless.

生活不仅是围绕着工作,办公室和客户。 生命还有更多意义。 您需要时间进行社交,娱乐,放松和锻炼。 不要让生活变得毫无意义。

You did not study hard and struggle in life to become a machine.

你努力学习和奋斗,不是为了成为一台机器。

Motivational: Take it one thing at a time

Source: https://medium.com/mind-cafe/four-habits-of-discipline-my-seal-dad-taught-me-7ed9b13987df

Just saw this article on Medium. Quite motivational and applicable to students and even working adults. There are 4 tips on the original website. We just quote one of the tips here. The Chinese equivalent, would be 千里之行,始于足下, or “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.


Enduring Work Ethic Stems From The Moment

I had an interesting conversation with him about Hell Week (some US SEAL army training week) a few years back.

For those who don’t know — Hell Week is ridiculous. You wake up on a Sunday to gunfire. You then work out until Friday with no sleep. Hell Week is the bottleneck that breaks a lot of talented people. It’s where the top 20% are whittled down to the top 5%.

I remember him saying, “Tuesday morning was the worst.”

It was a bizarre response. Tuesday? Wouldn’t Thursday be the worst? Or Friday morning? Then he explained and it made total sense.

You wake up on a Sunday morning at ~2 AM to gunfire. You run around getting yelled at. You are doing pushups, carrying logs, rolling in the sand. This continues all day, then into the night.

As people are sleeping in their warm beds, you continue exercising, shivering, and getting shouted at.

Monday morning comes. The drills repeat from sun up to sun down with non-stop exercise and physical torture. Then, all through the night, you do it again.

Then, Tuesday morning rolls around. You’ve gone more than two full nights without sleep. You’ve endured intense stress, cold water, and difficult exertion the whole time. By Tuesday morning, you’re more tired than you’ve ever been in your entire life.

That’s when you start to feel sorry for yourself.

“Oh man, it’s only Tuesday. How am I going to get through all of this?”

“If I’m this tired already…and I’m not even halfway through…”

The people that start thinking like this are the ones that quit.

The people who succeed — only look a few minutes in front of them. They don’t worry about Thursday or Friday. They are only focused on each individual exercise. They get through it one thing at a time.

You can apply this to many aspects of your life.

If you are studying for a massive test, take it one page at a time. Working on a huge presentation, one slide at a time.

For example, I swam in college. Our training was very grueling, 5 to 6 miles of swimming a day. Sometimes the coach would put a set on the board that made me think, “You’ve got to be f#$king kidding me. I’m going to die.” I just took it one lap at a time and got through it.

Lower your vision and piecemeal those big hurdles. It reduces the perceived mental weight of the tasks. Take it one thing at a time.

How to make work-life balance work (TED talk)

Quotes from the talk:

  • “People are working long hard hours at jobs they hate, to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like”

A book by the same speaker:


Fat, Forty, and Fired: One Man’s Frank, Funny, and Inspiring Account of Losing His Job and Finding His Life

No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish

” No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish”
– John Ruskin

The full context can be found here: https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/ruskin/liberty_and_restraint.htm

Romans 6:19-20
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh…


You hear every day greater numbers of foolish people speaking about liberty, as if it were such an honourable thing; so far from being that, it is, on the whole, and in the broadest sense, dishonourable, and an attribute of the lower creatures. No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish. There is always something that he must or must not do; while the fish may do whatever he likes. All the kingdoms of the world put together are not half so large as the sea, and all the railroads and wheels that ever were or will be invented, are not so easy as fins. You will find, on fairly thinking of it, that it is his restraint which is honourable to man, not his liberty; and, what is more, it is restraint which is honourable even in the lower animals. A butterfly is more free than a bee, but you honour the bee more just because it is subject to certain laws which fit it for orderly function in bee society. And throughout the world, of the two abstract things, liberty and restraint, restraint is always the more honourable. It is true, indeed, that in these and all other matters you never can reason finally from the abstraction, for both liberty and restraint are good when they are nobly chosen, and both are bad when they are badly chosen; but of the two, I repeat, it is restraint which characterises the higher creature, and betters the lower creature; and from the ministering of the archangel to the labour of the insect, from the poising of the planets to the gravitation of a grain of dust — the power and glory of all creatures and all matter consist in their obedience, not in their freedom. The sun has no liberty, a dead leaf has much. The dust of which you are formed has no liberty. Its liberty will come — with its corruption.

(J. Ruskin.)

8 of 10 Self-Made Millionaires Were Not ‘A’ Students. Instead, They Share 1 Trait

I think this is the latest best selling motivational book (out in Jan 2018). It is quite true, many successful people aren’t necessarily ‘A’ students. They do have some common traits that everyone can learn from.

The book is quite applicable to students. Most often, for students who aren’t performing well in school, the main reason is motivation. They are either not motivated, or their motivation is misplaced (e.g. motivated in computer games). Most parents will actually notice that their child is quite intelligent, but underperforming in school. The problem is psychological (motivation) rather than anything else.


The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

Source: Jeff Haden Linkedin

Listen to most teachers — and most parents — and it’s easy to assume that getting good grades in school is a requirement for professional success.

Nope.

Tom Corley, an accountant and financial planner, surveyed a number of high net-worth individuals. Many of them are self-made millionaires. (Not that you have to be a millionaire to be successful, of course.) He found most of the people surveyed did not earn high GPAs in school.

In fact, only 21% of the self-made millionaires were “A” students. 41% reported they were “B” students, and 29% were “C” students.

That’s right: More of the self-made millionaires were C students than were A students.

And if you’re wondering if family background played a part, 59% of the self-made millionaires came from middle-class households and 41% came from poor households — proving where you start does not dictate where you finish.

As Corley writes:

“…success in life does not come easy. It is fraught with pitfalls, obstacles, failure, and mistakes. Success requires persistence, mental toughness and emotional toughness in overcoming these pitfalls. Its pursuit pushes you to the edge emotionally and physically. You must grow a thick skin and become accustomed to struggle if you hope to succeed.

“Individuals who struggle academically may be more accustomed to dealing with struggle and making it a daily habit to overcome pitfalls.”

In short, they become mentally tough, which creates a foundation for long-term success.