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Thinking Slowly About Education in Singapore

The Huffington Post – Fernando Reimers

“This year I was honored to be appointed the CJ Koh Visiting Professor at Singapore’s National Institute of Education. In my research on how different nations define the competencies that young people need to thrive in the 21st century, Singapore occupies a central place because of the comprehensive and balanced nature of the goals that guide the education system, anchored in values and ethics and focused on the development of competencies for life, work and citizenship. I had previously visited Singapore and the NIE, when the cross-national research collaborative I lead, the Global Education Innovation Initiative, held one of our meetings in Singapore. The CJ Koh Professorship, however, provided me a unique and different opportunity for scholarly exchange and learning without the pressure of producing results that marks the regular meetings of my research group. This appointment was an opportunity to see Singapore with new eyes, and to think slow, rather than fast. It was not as if my good colleagues at the NIE had not planned an agenda for my visit, there were plans and plenty of meetings, conversations, colloquia, and lectures, but the pace was just right to observe, beneath the surface, and to think slow about what I was observing.”(more)

6 Reasons Why Singapore Math Might Just Be the Better Way

The 74 Million Reasons to Talk About Education – Mark Keierleber

“Since the 1980s, schools in Singapore have taken an innovative approach to teaching elementary math — a curriculum that focuses on problem solving with pictures and diagrams. Before the switch, the country’s math students “weren’t even registering on the charts as far as international ratings go,” says Dan Brillon, director of Singapore Math Inc., a company that distributes Singaporean math textbooks in the United States. Within a decade, Singapore “shot to the top.” In the U.S., Kevin Mahoney said he hears it all the time: “I’m just not a math person.” But it doesn’t work that way, said Mahoney, a math curriculum coordinator at a school near Boston who helps to implement the Singapore math curriculum at schools across the country. And students and parents in Singapore know it.”(more)

Singapore-style teaching helps solve problem of maths failure, says new research

The Independent – Richard Garner

“The first conclusive proof that Far Eastern teaching methods can improve UK pupils’ maths performance is revealed in research just published. A study, by UCL Institute of Education and Cambridge University, shows that children who were taught through the Singaporean “maths mastery” approach learn faster than their classmates – making, on average, an extra month of progress in a calendar year. Academics also forecast that the increase in their maths skills is likely to lead them to earning more after they leave school – by up to £200 a year. Researchers looked at the impact of the Singapore method of teaching on five and six-year-olds in 90 primary schools and 11 and 12-year-olds in 50 secondary schools. Schools in the Ark academy chain have adopted the new method of teaching.”(more)

NIE researcher aims to shed light on art of writing science answers

The Strait Times – Amelia Teng

“THEY may know their science, but some young students have not mastered the art of providing the answers that teachers look for in exam scripts. They end up using the wrong words, even when they know the correct answer. This is because they may not have grasped the precise nature of scientific language. A National Institute of Education (NIE) researcher is trying to fix this problem, which has long been a challenge in learning primary school science. Dr Seah Lay Hoon, a research scientist, started two projects in 2013 and this year, to see how teachers view students’ language- related challenges in science.”(more)

‘Cheryl’s Birthday’ Problem Gets the Internet Talking About Math

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“It’s been a tough year for parents trying to keep up with their kids in math. Last March, a North Carolina father tried to help his son with a word problem and ended up writing a note to the teacher saying that, despite having a degree in engineering, he couldn’t figure it out. Both the note and problem went viral. Parents have also been taking to social media to complain about the “new” methods their children are learning for basic computation under the Common Core State Standards. Then last week, this high school problem from Singapore made the rounds on the Internet…The Singapore television host who posted the problem wrote that it was for students in the equivalent of 5th grade. That made some parents panic. It turns out that the problem actually came from a math competition known as the Singapore and Asian School Math Olympiad, which is aimed at the top 40 percent of high school students…Since the problem was posted, much has been made of the fact that Singapore scores well above the United States on the Program for International Student Assessment…”(more)

Inspiring a World of Good through Early Childhood Education in Singapore

The Huffington Post – Jackie Jenkins-Scott

“This year, Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary as an independent country. This is an occasion to reflect on its remarkable progress over the last half century from a poor, underdeveloped, resource-scarce country to an economic dynamo whose per capita income is the world’s third highest. Singapore today is well known not just as a place to do business but for its headline-grabbing education system whose students routinely dominate global tests. Despite the strong test performance at higher grades, the country’s leadership understands that to be competitive in today’s global economy, its citizens need 21st century skills like creative problem solving, critical thinking, communication ability and being able to work in diverse teams…These skills need to be developed early and a strong foundation in the early years is the way to start…Just as Singapore used its low ranking [on early childhood education] as a national call to action, the United States needs more national action and collaboration for a country wide wake-up call to strengthen the sector…The dynamic economies of the 21st Century, such as Singapore, will be those with the best-trained citizens and we would do well to heed this call and prepare our all children for success.”(more)