- Created on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 19:16
- Written by Pat Pughe-Parry
- Hits: 273
Apparently in America kindergarten children are being asked the following question to test their maths ability.
"Miguel has two shelves. Miguel has six books . . . How many different ways can Miguel put books on the two shelves? Show and tell how you know."
They are then graded as "novice," "apprentice," "practitioner" or "expert." According to the DOE (Dept of Education), an "expert" would draw a diagram with a key, show all five combinations, write number sentences for each equation, and explain his or her conclusions using math terms. These skills would put them at Gr 2 level.
I am not an educator so I don't know how realistic this is in South African terms but I would like to talk about my reactions when I read the question and why. It will perhaps help teachers who work with ADHD children and also children for whom English is not their home language, understand why we struggle with maths.
I panicked and went blank! Now I know this will make many of you shake your heads in disbelief. It is so simple, isn't it?
Well it wasn't for me because my thought processes complete with images ran like this:
- 2 shelves:
- Where were they?
- How were they balanced?
- How would the books be stacked without bookends?
- How big were the shelves?
- 6 books:
- Am I being asked whether they would stand upright or lying down?
- Should they be at an angle?
OK by now you are quite possibly roaring with laughter. I am not remotely stupid but because I did not read the question correctly I got totally the wrong end of the stick. I panicked, went blank and was unable to even start answering the question.
Fortunately I have now learned to research further before I put fingers to the keyboard. At school I would not have had this opportunity, or known that what I was doing was wrong.
This is one of the consequences of ADHD. We mis-read and mis-interpret what we read and what we hear.
We then either go blank because we are anxious or we gaily answer the question because we are convinced we have understood it. We write reams and reams of really insightful stuff ..... pity it isn't what has been asked.
We give the right answer to the wrong question.
In social situations we often do the same thing. There is that lovely expression, "picking up stompies", where we catch a bit of the conversation and launch forth with our opinions while those around us stand looking totally bewildered or worse.
At work our boss gives us a project and because we are in such a rush to get going, or we have not been given clear instructions, we go off at a tangent thinking we are doing marvellous work. When we present to our boss with great pride we are ridiculed or even fired because we have not done what we were told to do.
ADHD children and adults need to learn how to fill the gaps and comprehend what is being asked.
It is about ensuring that we understand the context of what we are reading and hearing.
The way to do this is to keep asking questions until we are sure of what is required.
Earlier I also mentioned those whose home language is not English. I am a great admirer of Prof Jonathan Jansen, the Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State. In one of his columns that he writes for The Times he describes addressing 75 Grade 12s in a low performing school in the Free State. He asked them what the word "Comprehension" meant. Not one of them knew even though they were doing English Home Language.
How could these children possibly succeed at maths or any other subject if they are unable to "comprehend" what they are being asked?
These children, like those with ADHD are not stupid, they simply need extra help to understand.
They all need to be given the skills of how to ask questions without fear of being made to look stupid.
It is therefore of utmost importance that Educators take time to ensure that the children fully understand what they are being asked to do. Your inattentive ADDers (those that daydream) are probably shy as I used to be and terrified of looking stupid. Perhaps use the extrovert children to explain to the class what is required.
As Employers encourage your employees to ask as many questions as possible before starting a project to make sure that you are "talking the same language".
Keep your feet out out of your mouths and planted firmly on the ground.
Note: Foot In Mouth Cartoon published with kind permission of Mama's Losin It.