'Model drawing' method not an effortless solution

Having been an educator for 36 years and prepared generations of 12-year-olds for the Primary School Leaving Examination in English, mathematics and science, I do not agree with Mr Bobby Jayaraman's views on the "model drawing" method of solving maths problems ("Let's kill the drill approach in schools"; Feb 17).

Before this method was introduced, my pupils struggled to solve higher-level problems using algebra, which was very abstract.

More steps and time were needed to solve a single problem.

During the PSLE marking, my colleagues noted that many pupils either gave up halfway or did not attempt to solve the problems at all.

The model-drawing method gives clarity to the pupils, with pictorial and abstract illustrations.

Pupils are not drilled to work out the problem.

In fact, they have to understand and think how to draw the model that best represents the units in the problem.

This is taught from as early as Primary 1.

Contrary to what Mr Jayaraman claims, the model-drawing method neither cuts short the actual thinking required, nor provides quick, effortless solutions that can be regurgitated in exams.

If this method did so, parents would not be spending millions of dollars on tuition for their children, and pupils would be scoring A*s in mathematics every year.

Julia Sng (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline ''Model drawing' method not an effortless solution'. Print Edition | Subscribe