Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Mental Arithmetic

Went to an err... kind of distant relative house yesterday night for loose kind of tang lung festival gathering. It was more like a potluck kind of thing where my sis and I didn’t contribute anything. We were more like just go there to play with the kids there, including my 2 adorable nieces.

Also had a chat with this 10 year old kid who, in the midst of all the commotion was trying to do some arithmetic. It was not those calculator using plus, minus, multiple & divide. I know, kids at that age, using calculator is like… er... illegal in school terms. Anyway, she was using another kind of apparatus – which was abacus. Yes, you got it right, it’s those mind, fast counting technique call mental arithmetic.

Apparently there are 10 grades, grade 10 being the easiest, going down to grade 1. This 10 year old student is currently in grade 3. As I flipped through her work, it includes multiple & divide, with complicated combination of numbers including the chapter on “perpuluhan”. Funny, I even know what the thing is called in mandarin but the English term just refuse to come to my mind.

Anyway, she was to sit for this mental arithmetic test the day after. If I remember correctly, the exams fee was about RM 100++, and it only last 4 minutes. Applicants were supposed to finish 30 questions in 4 minutes. Just 4 minutes. Max incorrect answers allowed were only 2. More than that, sorry, you would need a re-test.

In the mean time, she has a younger sister who is in standard 1 now. She is now in grade 10 – the requirement for test is to finish 10 questions in 1 minute. Same thing, max incorrect answers also 2.

Gosh, I can’t do that, even with my ever loyal scientific calculator. And I heard that mental arithmetic was already started in class for standard 1. Can’t really imagine what kids go through these days. Perhaps I could start myself in those mental arithmetic classes. Haha… or perhaps not, what I count these days is only money, regardless of large sum or small sum. Till then, I shall rely fully, entirely on my beloved scientific calculator.

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