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No More MTAP for Raymund
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MTAP) is a countrywide, interschool competition participated on by grade schoolers considered as Math wizards. The competition for the district level is usually held yearly on the month of January. Winners in the district level try to compete for the regional, then the winner in Grade VI level will be the representative for the National level.( I think that's how it goes).

For the past three years since Raymund was in Grade 1, he had been representing his school in MTAP competitions annually. He and his friends (three representatives per level) always made it to the finals every year. They we're best friends .....good performance together.

MTAP training in Raymund's school starts as early as 6 months before the scheduled competition. These trainings are done after class hours and on Saturdays. Picking him up from training on weekdays and bringing him back on Saturdays became our problem.

The school is 16 kilometers away from our house. By car, the ride is around 45 minutes considering the traffic that goes with travelling around the city. If one is to commute, by bus or jeepney, that will be around 1 1/2 hour ride from our home. Yes, we know from the start since our kid started schooling 7 years ago that the school is a bit far, that daily trips would be difficult. But we also know that our child is exceptional and we wanted the best school for him.

Raymund's dad brings him to school together with his brother in the morning then he goes to his clinic on his way back to attend to his patients. He then picks up Raymund from school after his class from a nearby university in the afternoons. With frequent changes in schedule brought about by MTAP trainings, pick up time becomes unpredictable leading to lots of problems.

Most of the time, Raymund's dad who was already busy with his work and schedules, failed to pick up his son from school on time. Raymund, already exhausted physically and mentally from the day's school work, often has no option but to commute. He then suffered from frequent headaches, cough, and colds. His immune system bogged down. With his health going down so too with his performance in school.

Some of our friends, mostly doctors, suggested to us to let Raymund rest from some of his school activities. They also suggested to give him enough time to play. Too much studying with no play is bad for a growing child, so they say.

When school ended last year, Raymund was able to regain his health during the vacation. He had lots of exercise by working out in Garciano Kilat Serrada. He had lots of time to visit new places, to gain new friends, and lots of time to play. But we decided not to let him join MTAP this school year. We don't want our child getting frequent illnesses again. We don't want to push him to the limit anymore. We don't want to grab from his youth the opportunity to play and to enjoy life. We had our lessons to learn. There is always next time, maybe next year, it's not too late.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 1:55 PM  
  • At 12:19 AM, Blogger Chateau said…

    Hi! My daughter also used to be in the MTAP training program back in Grade 1. It was a good experience for her, though I did not pressure her into exerting too much effort since regular school work itself was already exhausting. It got quite rigorous nga, and because we also lived far from the school, she did not have much time for other things aside from school work. kawawa. My philosophy now is to let kids be kids; they need time for play just as we need time to relax.

  • At 8:12 AM, Blogger Amelyn R. Rafael,MD said…

    It really is a good experience joining the competition, Chat. In Raymund's case, it was more of the school pressuring the child to join though he did not even took the qualifying exams. They needed good representatives.
    The training already started and we finally turned it down by giving a formal letter to the principal. Yes, I agree with you - to let kids be kids. :)

  • At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Jane said…

    My dilemma is how to wean our youngest son from Math. He started out with MTAP for a couple of years. Then when he got an invitation for MTG (Mathematics Trainers Guild) which trains qualifiers for international competition, he also began joining.
    It got to the point when some Saturdays, he would have MTG in the morning, have lunch while traveling in the car so that he'd be able to catch the 1:30 PM start of MTAP in another school. Last year he was in Iloilo for MTG nationals and just this summer it was Subic. Pshew!
    Now that he is Gr. 7, I want him to join a school-sponsored overseas program to China for a few weeks (for a change and to broaden his horizon), but up to now, he is not too eager to leave Math behind. What to do?

  • At 6:25 AM, Blogger Amelyn R. Rafael,MD said…

    Just like your son, Jane, Raymund also got hooked to Math. He was supposed to be joining Subic for the MTG on the early part of summer vacation. But it was also the time of our long-scheduled vacation to Pandan, Catanduanes, the home town of my husband where we haven't visited for 7 years due to work, school, busy schedules. In short he was not able to join Subic. We explained to him everything that he needed to know...that life is not all math, that there's more to life than just joining Math competitions.
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not at all against MTAP or MTG. It's just the training that's taking the most of the kid's free time when he should also enjoy life.
    Personally, I think you should set priorities and explain them to your child.

  • At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Jane said…

    Update, Amy. My son insisted on joining MTG. But I think I will already put my foot down about MTAP. Otherwise he will be spending whole Saturdays running between 2 Math training programs.

  • At 6:52 AM, Blogger Amelyn R. Rafael,MD said…

    That's good, Jane, as long as you explain to him your reasons and your son agrees with you. Otherwise he would think that you are hindering him from something too close to his heart. :)

  • At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Paris said…

    I remember our MTAP in my elementary days. When I was young I really enjoyed what I'm doing - coming to school in the afternoon (we only have classes in morning) studying with your friends, seeing my classmates again.

  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Amelyn R. Rafael,MD said…

    It was good you only spend half-day for your classes, Paris. My son, now in grade 4, stays up to 3 or 4 PM since he was in grade 1. With MTAP he'll be staying up to 5 or 6PM and 1 to 4 PM on Saturdays. If he joins MTG another 4 hours on Saturday mornings. That will be spending the whole day of Saturday in school. Pretty hard for a young boy who lives a little bit far from his school. :)

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Name: Amelyn R. Rafael,MD
Home: San Fabian, Pangasinan, Philippines
About Me: Family Physician, and Associate Professor (Clinical Anatomy and Medical Physiology)
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