Thursday, August 26, 2010

Science schmience

Today is the last day of Andre's CA2, hooray!! Actually, it feels more like CA582. I mark my calendar by my kids' exams which seem to go on for perpetuity.

Up to the middle of this year, Kenneth and I split up the supervision of our kids' school work - he takes Science and Chinese, I take Math and English. Since Lesley-Anne began secondary school this year however, she has been completely independent where studying and schoolwork are concerned, so I've been hands-off (in fact, I couldn't help even if I wanted to, just reading the math explanations in her textbook makes my head swim).

Since I had a little more time, I offered to take over Andre's science revisions from Kenneth, a gesture which I suspect was secretly welcomed by both of them. Since taking over science, I've confirmed my belief that science in the primary school syllabus is more about English than science. The questions often call for answers to be worded in a specific way and with pre-determined key words. Anything different is usually not acceptable.

Andre sometimes has trouble differentiating between questions like "describe the process", "infer the properties" and "name the conditions". Yesterday, I set him a science assessment paper in a last-ditch effort to revise before the science exam today. One of the questions was: "Draw two conclusions from the observations." To my chagrin, I noticed that Andre had left that portion blank.

"Why didn't you answer this?"

"Because I didn't know how to draw the answer."

To his credit, his boo-boo dawned on him even as he uttered those words.

Once, his Chinese tutor noticed his low science marks and tried to help with this well-intended advice: "Learning science is not hard, just take the assessment book, before you look at the questions, look at the answers first and memorise all of them." Well, now you know how the China kids ace science exams. I think I hear Albert Einstein turning in his grave.
"Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination." - Bertrand Russell


Lilian said...

LOL! I think I remember Xu Laoshi giving the same advice. She said that was how her son scored so well in PSLE.

And yayyy, CA2 is over! Seriously, before you know it, it'll be SA2...just crazy.

monlim said...

Lilian: I know!! If I didn't know any better, I would say the exams coming round more often. As for the science scoring, I blame the system for rewarding regurgitation. How to create real scientists like that?

Jo said...

So farny !! Your son is really such a darling. Reminds me of the time when my daughter had a mock test math question "Ring the correct vase" - she drew a very pretty ring around the vase ! I told her what it meant and she was like..har...can't they just say "circle" instead!

I dunno about this Science - my hubby just had dinner with his school buddies, amongst them a few doctors, and they were complaining how hard the science was for their sons. that we all non-science trained are going to suffer !

My daughter is actually looking forward to Science next year - how weird ! Well, I hope she won't be disappointed or disillusioned...

monlim said...

Jo: "Ring the correct vase" LOL!! Yalah, haven't these teachers ever heard of plain English?

Is your dd in p2? Most kids look forward to learning science cos it sounds so interesting... until they actually find out what the syllabus entails. I think it's up to us parents to maintain the interest and keep making it fun.

Anonymous said...

Today is the last day of CA2 for my P5. Whenever she comes to me for queries about science, I will point my finger at the computer and say, "Please go google for it." The power of 'Finger pointing"! ;-P


monlim said...

Chris: Bwahaha, that's one way of solving the problem! Thank goodness for google!

Elena said...

Hi Monica,

I'm a parent of a two-year-old and I've been reading your blog without comment for some time *embarrassed look*. I know this is off-topic, but since you have two kids, do you know how to remove marker ink from tables? My son just drew in PERMANENT marker all over our table, and I have tried rubbing alcohol but it doesn't work.

Keep on posting! It's become a daily ritual to check your blog!

monlim said...

Elena: Welcome and thanks for reading! Sorry, I've no idea how to remove permanent marker stains, I would've tried rubbing alcohol too LOL. Maybe try a google search? You can find almost anything using google, just ask Chris, the mum who posted the comment before you :D Good luck!

Patricia said...


I use thinner to remove marker ink on my kids' Baby Alive.

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