A number of eleven plus children love to be stimulated. I worked with a charming eleven plus boy yesterday who was trying to master division of fractions. He learnt very quickly why he had to change the sign and invert. What he loved about the exercise was that he was learning something that very few in his class would know how to do. He was not in the least preoccupied with the fact that he would not expect to meet a division of fractions question in the eleven plus examinations.
He simply wanted to know more than any other child in his class about a particular mathematics topic. He thought that he would take one of the questions to school and see if any one would be able to work out the answer. He left his lesson with a spring in his step and a smile. He sits on the top mathematics table so he knows more or less what other children on the table are able to do.
There is a rule which it is as well to remember. When dividing a fraction change the dividing sign to a multiplying sign and invert the divisor.
To invert means turn upside down.
Once he had mastered the technique I asked him why he thought he had to change the sign and invert. He said that he would think about the `problem’ and ask at home. I asked him if he wanted me to try to explain and he told me that his father was good at mathematics and would know.
This type of dialogue makes education into a continuous process. This showed a confident child who enjoyed a challenge – and had every confidence in his parents.
I am sure he will have the answer. He should enjoy his few minutes of fame with the other children in his group at school.