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Why Singapore’s kids are so good at maths

The FT Magazine – Jeevan Vasagar

“A city-state of just 5.5 million people, Singapore is routinely ranked at or near the top in global comparisons of mathematical ability and boasts one of the most admired education systems in the world. In a league table based on test scores from 76 countries published by the OECD in May last year, Singapore came first, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The rankings, based on testing 15-year-olds’ abilities in maths and science, reinforced a sense that western children were slipping behind their Asian peers. The UK was in 20th place and the US 28th in the table. At meetings of the world’s education ministers, when it is Singapore’s turn to speak, “everyone listens very closely”, says Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD’s education assessment programme. Governments around the world have sought to incorporate elements of the “Singapore model” into their own approach to teaching maths and science. The latest is the UK, which earlier this month announced that half of England’s primary schools would adopt the style of maths teaching that is used in Singapore, with up to £41m in funding over four years to train teachers and provide new textbooks. But what is it about Singapore’s system that enables its children to outperform their international peers? And how easy will it be for other countries to import its success? .”(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)

Singapore Math Is Popular Among Educators Worldwide. Why?

The Asian Scientist – Claudia Chong

“US-based company Singapore Math Inc. first introduced the Singapore Math textbook series Primary Mathematics (Standards edition) to the US in 1998. Since then, states such as California and Oregon have approved the use of these textbooks in all kindergarten and elementary schools, International Enterprise Singapore revealed in 2009. Singapore Math textbooks have also found their way into domestic settings for homeschooling purposes. But what exactly makes the Singapore model of math education so attractive to Western countries?.”(more)

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)