Grow gently, dreamlessly

He was sitting at the front row on the minibus, eyes fixated on loading the machine gun, aiming at his targets at the wide desert. He was busy scrolling and tapping through a wide selection of outfits for his soldier as the coarse sound of the radio rings in my ears. National security day is coming soon on the 15th of April. 

“Protect our city. Honour security,“ the sound lingers and encircles me, and perhaps the rest of the passengers.

The moment she got off the minibus, she felt a sense of aloof excitement flushing over her cheeks. She walked up the familiar stairs to classroom 1B, and found herself two students sitting in the middle of the classroom, with eyes being fixated on the iPad screens, projecting their digital math notebook on the wall for everyone to see.

She greeted her fellow comrade and began the session together with a silent air of determination. Today, their task was to introduce alternative ways to solve the problem of 5*18. 

He began by illustrating a rectangle with the height of 5cm and the width of 18cm. He cut the width by nine to make nine little baby squares. Each little baby square is equal to (2*5), times nine will land you the correct answer of 90 (2*5*9).

What is thought to be straight forward enough is layered complication. One student was confused. He doesn’t seem to understand division well enough and lacks attention, although shows warmth to learning. 

She gave it another shot by drawing a different rectangle by six plus six plus six. The precisely cold calculation: smothering yet subtle, unclear yet sharp.

The sound of the radio rings in her ear again like an emotionless anthem. 

The other student took her by surprise with his usual, somewhat bored attitude. She finds it fortunate that at least he is wide awake. She often wonders why students should learn to solve x when they are probably asking where the next game is. 

As her cynicism kicks in, she begins to see the puzzled face on her comrade. He likes to refer to himself as The Old Sky. He wonders why a thirteen year old cannot concentrate to make simple divisions, and raised the question to the teacher in the classroom. 

To learn beyond the bare minimum is a challenge, the teacher said. Why learn about ways to find x when a few taps can get you virtually anything you can imagine? Parents can’t seem to do much about it either, and can we? 

Are we dreaming too much? 

This left the three of us a tiny bit frustrated, yet excited about the possibility to come.