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Spending time in China is the best way for children to learn Mandarin

The South China Morning Post – Anita Shum

“There’s no better way to learn a language than to speak it, and there’s no better way to “make” you speak it than travelling to that country. To practise Mandarin, China is a preferred choice for most as it is the only official language, but you can choose other destinations such as Singapore, Taiwan and even Malaysia, where Mandarin is one of the official languages. Check beforehand whether your children will be learning simplified or traditional Chinese characters. Taiwan is the only one of the three that uses traditional characters, the others use simplified characters.” (more)

Learning the Singapore way

The Bangkok Post – Staff Writer

“Singapore’s climb to the top of global education rankings has put the spotlight on how an education system that had been seen as somewhat too competitive, stressful and exam-oriented has evolved into one of the best in the world. Last year, the wealthy city-state, which had already been doing well in global educational rankings, outperformed the rest of the world in the OECD’s PISA survey, which tested around 540,000 15-year-old students in 72 countries and economies on science, reading, math and collaborative problem-solving.”(more)

Asian maths method offered to schools

BBC – Staff Writer

“Thousands of primary schools in England are to be offered the chance to follow an Asian style of teaching maths. The government is providing £41m of funding to help interested schools to adopt this method, which is used in high performing places like Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. The money will be available to more than 8,000 primary schools in England. This approach to maths is already used in some schools, but the cash means it can be taken up more widely. The Department for Education says the mastery approach to maths teaching, as it is known, involves children being taught as a whole class and is supported by the use of high-quality textbooks. Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts, so objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.”(more)

While liberal arts decline in U.S., China and other economic rivals add them

The Hechinger Report – Ben Wildavsky

“Businessman Po Chung might seem an unlikely advocate for the virtues of a U.S.-style liberal education. Cofounder of the Asia Pacific branch of shipping giant DHL, Chung is a rags-to-riches entrepreneur whose success is emblematic of the former colony’s hard-driving capitalist culture. But he’s also one of the leading advocates for adding a big dose of humanities and social sciences to the curriculum of Hong Kong’s universities. Chung and other backers of an unprecedented three-year-old reform effort are determined to move the city’s eight universities away from the rote learning, test obsession and narrow career focus that still characterize much of the Asian education system. They think it’s past time for colleges to introduce a broader range of subjects, to promote greater intellectual curiosity, and to foster creative thinking. And they’re convinced that these changes will, in turn, build a workforce of rigorous, creative thinkers — just what they think is needed to meet the fast-changing needs of a transforming economy.”(more)

Asia Leads The World In The Feat Of Reciting Thousands Of Pi Digits

NPR – Malaka Gharib

“Today is Pi Day, a time to celebrate the never-ending number that helps us calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Here in the U.S., Pi Day has officially become a “thing” — for example, today at Whole Foods, you can get slices of pie for $3.14, and if you can solve math problems from a Princeton professor, Pizza Hut will give you 3.14 years’ worth of free pizza. The developing world, which we cover in this blog, loves its pi, too.”(more)

How ‘Smart’ Do You Need to Be to Do Science?

The Huffington Post – Melanie Fine

“…just how smart do you have to be to become a scientist? The better question is, “How hard am I willing to work to become good at science and math? There’s a belief in the United States that there are two types of people — those who are good at math, and those who aren’t. And yet, studies have shown very few, if any, genetic differences between a strong mathematician and someone “not good at math.” The reason is clear. Everyone has the capacity to be successful at math…In the book Intelligence and How to Get It, Richard E. Nisbett writes about how Chinese, Japanese and Korean educational systems focus more on hard work than on natural abilities…When Asian students perform poorly, they work harder at it. When American students perform poorly, they often blame the test, the teacher, or their own inabilities. Rarely do they attribute poor performance on lack of effort.”(more)