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Belum!

"Am I right?"

This is the question math teachers constantly hear from students....keyed by homework problems, responses in class discussions, and work on test questions.

Author Robert Fulghum provided a phrase that would serve teachers as a good response. Belum.

The word Belum is Indonesian and means "not quite yet." Fulghum suggests it is a word that lies between "yes" and "no."

How fitting...As when doing/talking/learning mathematics, the word Belum seems to fit everywhere. That is, when problem-solving, one rarely achieves an "end-all" solution...there is always more to do, such as asking new questions or exploring alternate solutions.

But, beware of the effect of sharing this term with students! If you ask, "Do you understand this...?" they can merely reply Belum. This now forces you to ask more focused questions to find out exactly what it is that they do understand and don't understand.

So, I ask: Are you a quality teacher? And, your eternal response should be Belum.