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Teaching science and mathematics in English: Improve on the methodology

By : A. RIZAL MOHAMED, Subang Jaya

IT riles me to see the Education Ministry looking so listless after the roundtable discussion this week on the issue of teaching Science and Mathematics in English. You cannot improve on anything if you cannot differentiate between symptoms, root causes and the prescription. Ask any medical practitioner. What is the issue here, really? Is it the weakness of our children in Science and Mathematics? You cannot improve the students’ grasp of the two subjects if your approach and methodology are wrong, language notwithstanding. I asked my 11-year-old son how much time he spent doing simple experiments in Science classes. His answer was: “Very little.” Just to give an example of how backward our teaching methodology is, my son said the teacher explained the concept of temperature by showing a video of people using thermometers to measure temperature. The teacher then asked the students to read about it in the textbook.

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This letter hits the nail on our outstanding English standard declining thorny issue. As a Lean Six Sigma pratitioner, I believe the permanent solution is to  find out the  root causes and eliminate them once for all.

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My daughter is less than 2 years old and she can understand both English and Japanese, and later will introduce Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese.

I can’t see why we cannot take 1 step forward to integrate the BM textbooks few years back with the current English science and maths text books. Its a lot of effort, but why move backward instead of forward. We can allow students to use either English or BM to answer in the exams as long as the maths and science principles are correct.

Some good will surely come out of the dialectics at work between both languages instead of choosing either one. We need new advancements. We need Malaysia Boleh. Not some power struggle between languages.

When will Malaysia advance and not hold on to race and language as stumbling blocks but embrace our differences as advantages?