Ralph's Loss11:49 AM
Last Feb. 8, Ralph and two other Grade 1 pupils competed as Lourdes School of Mandaluyong's representatives to the DECS MTAP-NCR Area 2 Math Challenge Finals. We were actually surprised that he was able to join the Area Finals. An elimination round was held in the last week of January in school and I didn't expect that he would be chosen and would come out as number 1. Not that I don't have faith in my son's math abilities but because the Grade 1 pupils that took the elimination test that day were around 20 or more. (The population of LSM's Grade 1 level this year is around 240.)
We received the news that he would be part of the LSM team 4 days before the scheduled competition. Dadijun and I were so happy because a week before that, we learned that he won first prize in the Math Proficiency Competition that they had in the school during Math week. I joined the MTAP Challenge during my elementary days but I always got eliminated in the first round, hehehe. The next 3 days was spent in one-hour after class review sessions with their coach.
The competition was held in Deeco Institute along Marcos Highway. We brought Rap with us because it's nearer to our home than LSM. We arrived just in time for the scheduled 8am competition. While waiting, I observed that my son was already tensed and anxious. I caught him praying silently while waiting for his teammates to arrive. He did not eat much for breakfast and he did not touch the snacks that I brought for him.
I am a first-time MTAP parent and I was really surprised with the problems that the proctor gave to the contestants. As a former Grade 1 teacher, I know that the math problems were way above their level. Rap's most complex lesson in Math this term is on multiplication as repeated addition. He was taught box division only during his 3 review days. Imagine this, all questions are read by the proctor (that's why we hear the questions even though we were outside). In the Easy Round, the pupils were not allowed to make solutions because all questions should be answered mentally. In the Average Round, they were given scratch papers for the solutions but still, they would have to listen to the problem read by the proctor. It was only during the Difficult Round that they were given copies of the problem so they can have time to review it before computing. Not to mention that the maximum time limit for solving is 1.5 minutes!
We watched the whole event outside the glass-covered classroom at Deeco. I saw Ralph being frustrated after the results of the Easy Round. He even put an L hand sign (meaning loser) on the top of his head one time during the Average Round. I saw the hurt look in his eyes. I was all the while giving him the thumbs-up to lift his spirits but he was still teary-eyed. He went out of the room crying and hitting his head with his hand. Some of the Grade 1 pupils who lost were crying, too and I felt sorry for my son and those kids. In my mind I was thinking that they are still too young to feel the stress of failure. But still, it's good that they were already exposed to the real world... that is, the survival of the strongest. It's up to parents and teachers to help them cope with the stress to be up and running again.
We ate out at Sta. Lucia after the event and tried so hard to make Rap feel good. I constantly reminded him how proud I was that he reached the Area Finals. Before the event started, the proctor explained that from all the schools in Area 2 (Pasig, Mandaluyong, Marikina, San Juan, and Quezon City) who had their own in-school elimination rounds, only 16 schools were chosen to compete in the Area 2 Finals. That's already a big achievement for the LSM team.
I promised Rap that we will enroll him this summer in an ALOHA or any mental math program. This was the advantage of the other students over him in the competition. He also asked me that I teach him Grade 2 math this summer. He even said "Humanda sila next year!" By that I can tell that he was already starting to cope with the loss and I'm glad that it made him stronger.