"Algebra For Kids" — Malaysians Astonished By Hard Question In Standard 1 Maths Workbook

"Is the standard for primary education in Malaysia that high now?"

Cover image via Reddit & Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

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Primary school is all about children taking little steps towards learning new things and building their cognitive skills.

But has the threshold for educational excellence gone too far to ensure that kids stay ahead of the pack intellectually?

A recent post made to the Malaysian Reddit community page, r/Malaysia, has been going viral after a workbook question meant for children aged seven (otherwise kids in Standard One), stunned users due to its 'inherent complexity'.

Published by user u/Enoch_Moke, the headline of the post read, "Just spotted this math question in a primary one exercise book. Is the standard for primary education in Malaysia that high now? Is it even realistic to assume that kids can solve these?"

Image used for illustration purposes only.

Image via Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

A mathematics-based question apparently came straight from a workbook meant for children in Chinese vernacular schools

Translated from Mandarin to English, the question read,

"Mum prepared 40 watermelon slices. After giving some to two guests, mum has 20 slices left. How many slices did each guest receive?"

Underneath the question, the Reddit user who posted the query typed out a solution for it — which was the real kicker that took many people off guard. Using an unknown, "x" as a symbol to represent the number of watermelon slices received by each guest, an algebraic method was used to resolve the problem.

(Top) The question and its respective translation to English and (bottom) the solution, as provided by the Reddit user.

Image via Reddit

Accompanying the question, the user also attached a picture of the cover of the workbook, to prove that the question came from a mathematics book for children in Standard One Chinese vernacular schools.

The workbook in question.

Image via Reddit

Stunned by the question, many Malaysians commented under the post to give their take on the complexity of the problem — which to some, was not that difficult at all

Multiple Reddit users called the poster out on using an algebraic formula to solve the question, saying that children as young as seven wouldn't know how to use it, and wouldn't use that method.

"It's difficult, but it's more targeted to gauge their understanding of word problems," one person reasoned.

Another user, who admitted to handling kids, said that while small children are much smarter nowadays as compared to before, this may have been a step too far to examine their intelligence levels.

"The first barrier would be the comprehension of the question," they wrote.

Image via Reddit
Image via Reddit

Others doubled down on the inaccuracy of the poster using algebra to solve the question. Instead, they said that logic would help kids deduce the answer.

"There's no need to use the "x", some primary schools do have a higher standard."

Image via Reddit
Image via Reddit

Others, on the other hand, were not phased by the question, stating that it is pretty much the standard for children who study at Chinese vernacular schools.

"It's pretty normal to me," wrote one user.

Image via Reddit
Image via Reddit

However, an observant few even pointed out an inherent problem within the question itself.

"The question does not say that each guest received an equal number of slices," commented one user, stating that it is incomplete without one additional sentence.

Image via Reddit
Image via Reddit

Do you think the question is too hard for pupils in Standard One? Let us know!

Check out the full post on Reddit below:

This is not the first time someone on social media shared a primary school question that seemed like it was too hard for kids that young:

One Malaysian father compared the Standard One syllabus in Malaysia and the US, and the difference was glaring:

Here are some other unusual questions that have popped up within Malaysia's education system:

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