Is it fair to ask a 12 year old “How heavy are eight $1 Singapore coins? Six grams, 60g, 600g or 6kg?” for a maths question?

The PSLE question that has parents crying foul – what is the weight of 8 $1 coins? 1) 6g 2) 60g 3) 600g 4) 6000g.

“This is not a Math question!”

Yes it is. Math is more than just arithmetics and pushing numbers around. Our Mathematical syllabus includes Estimation and Tessellation (both taught at Primary 5), as well as patterns and Geometry (taught since Primary 1).

“How many children have an idea how much a coin weigh? This is unfair!”

It is not. Children should have already gone through an activity at either Primary 2 or 3 on Weight, where they have to weigh coins and other objects and got to understand what the various weight is like.

Ultimately, the PSLE is an exam meant to stream out the scholars from the farmers. The ability to answer certain questions would stream out those meant to be at the top. We seriously need to let our children know that it is not the end of the world if their PSLE score is not the most fantastic in the world, and to teach them resilience and ability to accept and move on. Our present bunch of students are too weak emotionally, and will be crushed by the tougher East Asian children who have gone through more stressful educational system than ours do.

In short, yes, it is fair to all such a question. They have enough prep in such questions.


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