But that was only the peripheral part of my story. Real story began with one of the plenaries: Flash Mind Reader. Everyone in that auditorium, including me, exclaimed , ‘wow’ , watching the real beauty of mathematical juggleries. That was the moment! It is a pity that I do not remember the speaker’s name, but I do remember how the presentation charmed the audience. It was the Flash Mind-reader, just a game of number manipulation. It went like this: think of a two digit number, add both digits, subtract the total from the original number, it continued, keep this final number in your mind. Then they instructed us to go and click the start button , eventually find the symbol that corresponds to the final number. Concentrate on the symbol and click on the magic button. Amazingly, it read your mind! (This is one of the Android Application you can download in your smartphone). How does it work? At this point, most give up. And that is why, couple of years ago, the whole nation erupted with puzzled anger on the outcome of MCAT (Common Assessment Task in Mathematics). Because we always have difficulty understanding meta-cognition, the process of thinking to think.
It is not easy to generalise. Take for example, how to write a two digit number using symbols? Variable x times y? No! There comes the importance of place value- 10 times x plus y- now that makes sense. What I am driving at is the universal problem solving idea that trial a iteration of number problems, get the pattern and finally, try to generalise using attributes or variables using letters. Do you think human mind is always receptive to that? Nau Mai, you are more than welcome to visit my year 10 or 11 algebra classes and talk to these juvenile minds.