Friday, August 27, 2004

pattern recognition or maths

Recently a friend says that his six year-old child knows the answer for 100+1, 100+2, 100+8, etc. but doesn't know the answer for 99+1. It seems that the child can recognize the pattern when a '1' follow by two '0's, a '+' symbol and a number of 1 or 2 digits, the answer can be formed by replacing 1 or 2 zeros from the right with the 1 or 2 digits on the right of the symbol '+'. Then, it became clear why he doesn't know the answer for 99+1 as this is a totally different pattern. This seems to be an unknown/unsolved problem for many students, who may score high grades for mathematics in tests and examinations by similar pattern recognition as above, without proper understanding of the mathematics concepts.

From my tutoring experiences, girls tend to use pattern recognitions more than guys. If this is not corrected, they will find mathematics very difficult by the time they reach secondary 2 when the patterns become much more complicated and thus requires many exceptions to their pattern recognition rules.

I am quite against the use of phrases based on pattern recognition, such as “canceled off the x in the numerator and denominator in a fraction” and “bring the x over to the right hand side”.

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