Dubbo Photo News - - Opinion & Analysis -

The Ed­i­tor

Here’s a Ques­tion for Coun­cil: I’m a res­i­dent in the three-bin Dubbo collection dis­trict, where Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil has stated on its web­site that I will only get a 140-litre Red Bin. I want a 240 litre Red Bin. I want to know un­der what Aus­tralian law Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil has de­creed res­i­dents in the three-bin Dubbo and Wellington collection dis­tricts must have a 140-litre Red Bin.

I ac­cept there are cer­tain rules and laws in free demo­cratic so­ci­ety that have to be obeyed in or­der to main­tain ci­vil­ity, but I don’t think hav­ing a small bin foisted on us when res­i­dents on the ur­ban fringes are get­ting a large bin is fair, demo­cratic or civil.

This is not a “what about me” whinge; this is about ne­ces­sity. Res­i­dents should have the ex­tra ca­pac­ity in case they need it, and a lot prob­a­bly will.

Orange City and Bathurst Re­gional coun­cils pro­vide all their res­i­dents with a 240 litre three­bin ser­vice; why not Dubbo? Steve Hod­der


The NAPLAN and the Times Ta­ble

A re­port ob­tained by ABC News has re­vealed that there has been no im­prove­ment in maths and read­ing among stu­dents in a decade in the NAPLAN assess­ment. The re­port also men­tions that chil­dren from poor fam­i­lies, re­gional and ru­ral ar­eas, and those with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, are strug­gling the most in their quest to im­prove lit­er­acy and numer­acy.

Since 2016, I had the op­por­tu­nity to tu­tor maths to sev­eral stu­dents in pri­mary and high school in Dubbo. Be­sides help­ing them to pre­pare for the numer­acy sec­tion of the NAPLAN assess­ment, I also helped them to pre­pare for their maths as­sign­ments and ex­ams in school.

While tu­tor­ing th­ese kids, I re­alised that many of them – even the ones in high school – did not have the times ta­ble prop­erly mem­o­rised. The kids who had the times ta­ble prop­erly mem­o­rised were do­ing much bet­ter than those who did not.

When I asked the kids who did not have the times ta­ble prop­erly mem­o­rised to mem­o­rise it, some of them told me that they were not re­quired by their school to do that. I was quite sur­prised to hear this!

I did my ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in Civil En­gi­neer­ing from USA, I went to high school at an Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional School in Thai­land and I went to pri­mary school in Bangladesh. While study­ing in th­ese three dif­fer­ent coun­tries, I re­alised that in all th­ese three coun­tries, stu­dents had to mem­o­rise the times ta­ble while they are in pri­mary school.

This is be­cause other than ad­di­tion and sub­trac­tion prob­lems, most math prob­lems that are taught in school are di­rectly based on the times ta­ble. For ex­am­ple, prob­lems in­volv­ing mul­ti­ply­ing or di­vid­ing whole num­bers, frac­tions and dec­i­mals, prob­lems in­volv­ing find­ing ra­tios, prob­lems in­volv­ing find­ing the per cen­t­age of cer­tain num­bers, prob­lems in­volv­ing con­vert­ing units, prob­lems in­volv­ing uni­tary meth­ods, prob­lems in­volv­ing al­ge­bra, prob­lems in­volv­ing fi­nan­cial maths, prob­lems in­volv­ing BODMAS etc. are all di­rectly based on the times ta­ble.

There­fore, the times ta­ble is ba­si­cally the fun­da­men­tal of math­e­mat­ics.

Whether the NAPLAN is a good way to find out how a child is do­ing may be de­bat­able. Whether the NAPLAN should change its fo­cus also may be de­bat­able, but it is not at all de­bat­able that to do bet­ter in the numer­acy sec­tion of the NAPLAN assess­ment or to do bet­ter in math­e­mat­ics in gen­eral, it is es­sen­tial that schools and also par­ents em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of mem­o­ris­ing the times ta­ble to their kids.

As an en­gi­neer and as a maths tu­tor, I can con­fi­dently say that a stu­dent can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove their maths skills just by mem­o­ris­ing the times ta­ble be­cause this will en­able them to un­der­stand the re­la­tion­ship among dif­fer­ent num­bers which is es­sen­tial in math­e­mat­ics.

There is still about a month and a half left be­fore this year’s NAPLAN, and so there is still time for stu­dents to act – you still have enough time to mem­o­rise those tables!

To the par­ents, if you have not al­ready done so, please buy a times ta­ble or print out a large copy of it and post it in front of your kid’s study ta­ble as this makes it eas­ier for them to mem­o­rise it.

Good luck to all the NAPLAN tak­ers this year!

Rid­wan Quaium,


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