Category Archives: Education Works

So Who Needs Math?

study mathThere are those that love Math; in fact some, like my son, think it more exciting than a good English novel; but for most of us Math is one of those subjects to endure.  We study Math, but grudgingly, without enthusiasm and we barely make the grade.  At the earliest possible time, we drop it from our list of courses we study.  But should we?

Math is everywhere, in almost everything we do.  You need Math to tell the time of day and to estimate how long it will take to get somewhere or to do something.  We use Math in sewing, cooking, business and technology.  It seems it is one of those subjects we shouldn’t neglect.

This is especially true if you are planning on studying abroad in a country like Canada.  Most universities have Math as an admission requirement for some if not all of their faculties.  For example, if you are planning on studying Business, Medicine, the Sciences or Engineering at a major university in Canada, you will want to take Grade 12 Math (or its equivalent, i.e.:  A2 level Math or AP Math)

Even if you are planning on studying in the Faculty of Arts at a Canadian university or college you most likely will be required to have two Sciences or one Math and one Science.

So don’t forget to add Math to your study timetable.  You may find you need it in the future.

If you are reviewing Canadian colleges and universities and trying to decide what admission requirements you should have so you can study at your institution of choice, and you need assistance in understanding what you need, contact a veteran in the field at Alberta Rose Education Centre.  Their main international recruitment consultant has over 27 years of Canadian post-secondary education experience.

 

No Pain, No Gain Study Plan

student-and-studyA young man walked into my office the other day with the intent to study in Canada, but he had idled away his final year of high school and so could not meet the entrance requirements to study at a Canadian university.  If there is no pain, there is no gain.  Getting good marks does require some effort.  Here are some tips to get those high marks that will take you places:

  1. Get sufficient rest, nourishment and exercise – getting proper rest, eating enough food and getting plenty of exercise will give you the energy you need to study.
  2. Have a set time and place to study – if you have a set routine and a good place to study, then you will not forget to study or procrastinate.  The study place should not be your bed; you will only fall asleep.
  3. Plan a daily study schedule, don’t cram for exams – plan to study everyday.  This will help your long term memory and you will remember everything you need to for the exam.  Cramming only lasts as long as the cram; the facts may not even remain in your head long enough to write the exam.
  4. Take notes in class; don’t rely on your memory – take notes; most of us don’t have a photographic memory and we forget.  You have many subjects and facts to remember so don’t rely on your memory.
  5. Try to understand; don’t just memorise – to get good marks you need to understand your subjects, not just memorise them.  If you memorise only, you will forget, but if you understand you will remember; perhaps even as long as a lifetime.
  6. Study the questions at the end of the chapter – the summary and questions at the end of the chapter are there for a reason – to help you study.  So make use of this important part of the chapter.
  7. Review, review and review again – this is essential for good marks – review your text, your lecture notes; not just once or twice, but many times.  Remake notes in your reviews, not just read and you will remember most of the information.

If you follow this simple regime, you will benefit from the result because you will be the guy or gal with top marks.  So don’t procrastinate, set up a study schedule today and reap the rewards.

Games Children Play

Education is not only for the young.  Sometimes as parents, we need to be educated too.  No, we don’t have to go back to our school days and sit on hard chairs, but we can go to the virtual classroom.

As parents do we understand much about the video games our children play?  Some parents think that our children benefit from these games, whereas others are quite convinced that children gain nothing from them at all.

So as adults, we need to learn as much as we can about what our children are doing when they are not studying.  The University of Alberta has provided the perfect course for not only young people and students but for us parents as well.

They are currently offering an online course on video games which is free to anyone, anywhere in the world.  Students studying at the University of Alberta can also take this course for credit.  Globally, one can also take this course as a credential for a cost.

Whether you play video games or just want to learn what they are all about, check out this online course offered by the University of Alberta.

What is Plagiarism? Should I do it?

Essay cartoon Alberta TuitionWe live in a copy and paste world with the Internet so easily accessible with sometimes good, sometimes bad information.  Writing a great essay has never been easier?  Right?  Well maybe not.

When we copy something from the Internet or from the newspaper or a book and we don’t say where we got the information from, we are guilty of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a crime and if you get caught there are penalties.  Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s ideas and words and making them your own.  Stealing is wrong.

There are several ways that a teacher can find out if you have plagiarised your paper:

Available software:  There is now software that most schools and universities have that can be used to detect if a student is stealing someone else’s words.

Entering choice sentences into the internet to see what comes up:  If there is no software available; teachers still have their ways of determining if a student cheated or not on the essay.  They simply type a sentence from the essay into Google and then they see what comes up.  It is an easy thing to find out if your student has plagiarised.

Differences in Level of Writing:  This is the first clue that a teacher might have that the student has stolen someone else’s work.  Levels of writing within the essay itself can help a teacher know if the student has plagiarised all or part of his/her paper.  Secondly, the teacher knows his/her students and knows what they are capable of and not capable of.  Even if the student has used a professional writer to write the paper, the teacher can take a calculated guess and determine if the work is the students or that of a professional writing service.  For example if a Grade 12 student uses a PhD writer to write his/her paper, the teacher will know the difference.

Some instructors are very good at detecting the use of professional writing services and may well give the student a D or F mark (Failure).

Punishment can vary from a failing grade to being expelled from school or university.  In some countries you will not be able to regain entry into that institution or even another one for up to two years.  That means you have to sit out for 2 years and you will not be able to complete your studies in the proper timeframe.

In the long run, plagiarism just doesn’t pay – it costs you in the end.

Taking a Science Class into Rural Pakistan

Sometime ago I wrote an article on how everyone can love science and math as long as we don’t leave these subjects in the classroom.  Well the time has come to take the science class out of the school and into the fields of Pakistan that surround Lahore.

Kingfisher science class lahoreFrom my veranda I have the opportunity to watch nature unfold its lovely colours and events as I bask in the winter sunlight.  From this vantage point I get to watch science in all its glory.

For months I have been watching this gorgeous blue bird.  I had seen it in South Waziristan but didn’t know its name.  It was called the Bombay Bluebird there, but I have since found out it is called a kingfisher, a White-throated Kingfisher to be exact.  It is so beautiful, that the curious scientist in me called me to explore more about it on the Internet.

I must say it doesn’t like to have its picture taken so this picture is a rare moment.  He is a bit afraid of the click of a camera.

So for an outdoor science class today, here it is:

The White-throated Kingfisher is one of five varieties that live in Pakistan and can be found in the open plains (as around Lahore) but has also been seen as far away as the Himalayan Mountains.

They can usually be seen perched on top of trees, wires or other high perches.  Although you do not see many at a time, they are not an endangered species so they should be around for viewing for a long time to come.  They can fly very fast and have powerful beaks (called bills because of the shape and size) so they do not have many predators.

Their diet is made up of large crustaceans, insects, earthworms, rodents, snakes, fish and frogs and there are plenty of those in the fields around Lahore so they have lots of food to eat.

Kingfisher science lahoreThree hundred years ago the Kingfisher was hunted for its beautiful blue feathers.  The feathers were used to decorate hats.  One such hat is on display in a museum in Scotland.  I think the feathers should have stayed on the bird because the hat is, in my view, quite ugly.

I enjoy observing natural science at its best out in the rural areas of Lahore and it is this love for science that I want to instill in students.  Yes, we do have to study textbooks, but sometimes it’s worth studying science outside the classroom.  It certainly is more exciting!

Eight Year Olds not Interested in Science, Study Finds

Science in the kitchen tuitionEducationalists in Ireland have found that students lose interest in science as early as eight and it is almost impossible to stimulate that interest in students as they grow older.

This trend maybe a problem world wide as students in the US and Canada are also loosing interest in the sciences and math.  Currently in Canada, high school students are switching from the science stream to an arts stream because they are either not interested in the sciences or find them too difficult.

Dr Anne Looney, chief executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in Ireland believes that young students, especially 10 year olds, must be stimulated to main and/or develop an interest in the sciences and maths.  It is believed that a more inquiry based and problem-solving approach to teaching the maths and sciences should be used to encourage and maintain an interest in these subjects.

Science and math are all around us; and parents and educators need to incorporate these everyday events and factors that are science and math saturated.  For example, math is in the kitchen.  Every time we bake a cake, we use math to measure the ingredients.  Every time we light a match to start a gas stove, we are enacting the theory of thermodynamics.  When we look at the stars at night, we are engaged in scientific discovery and wonderment.  We must take math and science out of the classroom and into the world where a child can see math and science in action.

Then a student needs to solve problems and experiment; he/she needs challenges to develop a love for learning and for incorporating into his mental framework those facts discovered from the problem or experiment.  We need to take students away from dry facts, rote learning, memorising and give them a taste for science and math in life – out in the real world where they are part of nature, part of our daily living.  It is then that the sciences and maths will retain their flavour.

Should Pakistan have English Medium Classrooms in Primary Grades?

tuition english math sciencehe-books-as-symbol-of-education-step--milestoneThe recommendation, according to the “Policy and practice:  teaching and learning English in Punjab schools” report, is that Pakistani students should not have an English medium education until Grade 6.  Students in the primary grades 1 to 5 should have an English course only, and then be introduced to English-medium instruction in the higher grade levels.  Research was conducted in several major cities including Lahore, Sahiwal and Multan.

It seems that much of the problem with English medium classrooms is that the teachers are not adequately equipped to teach in English, especially in Maths and Sciences.  Mixed language usage, or Urdu utterances only account for some of the problems in an English-medium classroom.  Teachers themselves are not competent enough in English to teach math and science concepts so the student is disadvantaged.

By waiting until the student is older, the researchers believe that the students will achieve better marks in maths and science if they can learn in Urdu first.

Scientists cannot agree on what is the best age for a child to learn a second language.  Some say that the child should learn the language before the age of 6 or 7 and others say that learning a second language should happen before the child is 10 or 11 years of age.  The bottom line is that learning a language as a child makes acquisition of that language easier.  So, if English-medium instruction did start at the 6th grade, then they would still be in that prime age for acquiring a second language.

But as I read over the report and reflected on some of my teaching experiences in Pakistan, I propose that the student’s age level is not the real issue.  Until the English competency of teachers improves, it doesn’t matter what grade is the starting point for English-medium instruction, the students will always lag behind.

The report states that Urdu only utterances occurred in 23% of English classes with 15% in Math and 19% in Maths.  That means that in a high portion of English courses, English is not used sufficiently to make a student competent.  In fact the student might be better off in Maths or Science.  Therefore the student may not have a sufficient knowledge of English to start English-medium instruction, even if they wait for the higher grades.

I have had Grade 8 students give me the wrong definitions of words because that is the definition their teacher gave them.  A read of a Grade 9 English text show grammatical errors.  For example “Blue Mosque reflects the architectural style of both Ottoman mosque and Byzentine church” should read “The Blue Mosque reflects the architectural style of both an Ottoman Mosque and a Byzantine church”.  A question is asked as “Why Sultan Ahmad Mosque is also known as Blue Mosque?”  It should read, “Why is the Sultan Ahmad Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque?”  These examples are not isolated ones, but rather the norm in a system where English cannot be taught properly, regardless of the grade level unless the school board texts are revamped and the teachers, at every level become competent to teach in English.

You Love Math and Don’t Even Know It

Math owl tuitionEveryone loves math.  Your response to that statement might be, “Not me!  I hate the stuff!”  But the real truth is that you do love math.  Oh, maybe not the math that you are taught in school.  That is because of the way that math is taught.  Math in school is taught in a way that makes many hate it, or at the best consider it dry facts and number crunching.

But there is a math that is pure and beautiful.  It is seen in the symmetry of a flower.  Have you ever noticed the number of petals in a flower and the perfect symmetry that makes us say gorgeous?  Or what do you think of the planets in their orbit?  Is there any math involved in that?  Of course there is, lots of it, and it is what makes the world go round (literally).

We have a natural love for math, yes, you were born with it.  You see it when you are gripped by a particular song or piece of music, you see it when you marvel over an artist’s handiwork, and you exercise this mathematical ability every time you admire anything with beauty and structure in it.

Patterns are found in both math and music.  When a scientist or a mathematician looks for patterns in the natural world they are doing the same thing you do when you listen to music.  Or if you create your own masterpiece you are exploring; experimenting with patterns.

Perhaps you need to look at math differently.  Don’t look at it just as a subject you have to pass; a subject with lots of numbers, problems and rules.  Look for symmetry, geometry, numbers and equations in other places, places where your maths teacher has not yet explored.  You may well find that you do love math and that you can do math after all.

And if you find out you love math, you will probably excel in it and get those high marks you always dreamed of.

How do Pakistani Students Rank Internationally in Maths & Science?

tuition lahore girls school3The TIMSS results for 2011 are highlighted in the news these days as the US analyses the maths and science results of their grade 8 students.  It seems the USA did not fair so well globally and how students faired in the exams seems to be dependent on which state they live in.

TIMSS is an acronym for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and assesses mathematics and science along with a test of student, teacher and school questionnaires.  It also measure development progressions such as child poverty based on reduced school lunch programs.  Sixty-three countries participated in the 2011 examinations.

The American state of Massachusetts scored higher than any other US state, but still lagged behind a number of Asian countries.  South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan to the top position.

So that got me thinking about Pakistan.  What position did Pakistan hold in this exam?  Of all the countries that participate, Pakistan does not, but neither does India.  One of our other neighbours, Iran, participates in this assessment.  A search on the Internet of Pakistan’s position globally as to how our students fair in maths and sciences on the global scene, draws a blank.

It is not that we don’t have our prize-winning maths students, but it is more at the individual level than how our students rank compared to students in other countries.  In the 2012 International World Maths Day Competition, first prize went to a Pakistani student from Beaconhouse School System.  The second place went to another Pakistani student.

There have also been several high maths achievers who have participated and received medals in such events as the Maths Olympiad Contest, but we cannot measure our overall standing on a larger scale.

It would be valuable to know where we stand globally.  How does Pakistan’s Maths and Science curriculum, the students, the teachers (it takes a team effort to achieve world standards) measure up?  Can we compete internationally?  Are we above average?  Are we doing okay or do we have to improve?

What does it take to Succeed at University?

A – 1 study tuitionIf you dream about going to university, how do you make that dream a reality?  If you dream about graduating with distinguished marks so you can get a prominent position, how do you plan to achieve that?

There are four essentials to succeeding at university:

Good marks – Of course good marks help to get you into your desired institution.  If your higher secondary marks are poor, then you can forget about going to study at university.  The entrance requirement to university is always good marks.  If you plan to study in Canada or other foreign destinations, then 70% is the minimum mark you should have.

Good Study Habits – If you don’t have good study habits, you won’t have good marks; it is as simple as that.  You will not be able to succeed in graduating with high marks, in fact you might not even graduate – think about it.

You need to establish good study habits; setting up a study schedule, planning a daily study program and then disciplining yourself to carry it through.

Determination – Your attitude counts a lot to your success at university.  You need a 100% attitude.  If you are determined to succeed you will.  Determination is the foundation to being disciplined and having a disciplined study program, attending classes regularly and completing all assignments on time.

A Desire to Learn – Succeeding at university is not only about getting a degree so you can get a job.  Although it is one of the reasons, one of the major reasons to attend university is to learn.  There should be a love of learning, of discovery, of delving into the sciences and arts and expanding your knowledge to new horizons.

If you take these four essentials and build on them, you will be successful at not only university but life.  You will fulfill your dream of going to university and you will walk tall the day you hold that prestigious degree in your hands.