‘Singapore Mathematics’ A unique way to help children in Singapore master mathematics

‘Singapore Mathematics’ A unique way to help children in Singapore master mathematics:

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Singapore ranks first in the world, especially in mathematics, and this credit is attributed to its unique teaching method in which the subject is taught. Singaporean students have excelled in math’s and science around the world.

In the 2022 PESA test, Singaporean school students have achieved the highest global rankings in the above subjects worldwide.

The country has historically been very successful in mathematics in particular, and this is attributed to the country’s distinctive way of teaching the subject.

What is ‘Singapore Mathematics’ and why is this method so successful?

PISA stands for ‘The Program for International Student Assessment’. It is a system for rating the academic performance of children up to the age of 15, introduced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Mathematics is one of the three major subjects in Pisa. In the year 2022, 15-year-old children from 81 countries participated in it. Children from participating countries scored an average of 472 points on the test, while Singaporean students scored 575.

Singapore authorities believe teaching mathematics makes people think logically and analytically. Therefore, from a young age, Singaporean children learn topics such as reasoning, communication, and modeling in the critical process of mathematics.

The special method used to teach mathematics in this country is ‘Singapore Mathematics.’

It was developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education in the 1980s for its public schools.

'Singapore Mathematics' A unique way to help children in Singapore master mathematics

This approach creates a deeper understanding of formulas for children rather than memorizing them and has been widely adopted worldwide in recent decades.

‘Singapore Mathematics’ A unique way to help children in Singapore master mathematics: How does Singapore math work?

There are two basic theories of the Singapore Mathematical Methodology. One is the real, pictorial, and imaginative approach (concrete, pictorial, abstract, i.e., CPA), and the other is the concept of mastery.

CPA is not unique to Singaporean mathematics and was developed by American psychologist Jerome Bruner in the 1960s.

This concept is based on the idea that children and adults can find mathematics difficult. So, CPA introduces abstract concepts, and only then does one move on to more complex subjects.

Dr Ariel Lindorff, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Oxford, told the BBC that ‘children in Singapore are always doing something concrete for the math’s subject.’

“It’s like they have cubes that can fit together,” he said. They can learn through pictures. Instead of just numbers, they might have some pictures of flowers that they can put together, or people or frogs or something that they can relate to so that it’s easier for them to understand. Be there.’

CPA thus provides a way to understand mathematics through these different representations.

Then, once children demonstrate that they clearly understand the concrete and pictorial stages of a math problem, they move on to the abstract or conceptual stage of learning.

“The way math is taught in Singapore is not about math,” says Dr Lindorff.

The concept of ‘skill.’

Another pillar of the Singapore Mathematical Methodology is ‘skill.’ This ensures that every student in the class moves forward together and that no one is left behind.

For example, when children learn a particular subject, such as adding something, it is natural that some children may grasp it more quickly than others.

Instead of taking these students to a completely different topic, they are given additional activities related to the same topic to deepen their understanding.

“This doesn’t mean everyone has to stop and wait for another student to catch up,” says Dr. Lindorff.

“The idea is that if some children have a very good understanding of addition, the teacher will not push them to negate numbers but instead teach them more about the concept of addition.”

These activities may be based on large numbers or different formats.

Therefore, children with better understanding will still solve the same problems as the rest of the class but will do it differently.

In Singapore Mathematics, students need to see mathematics as important and achievable.

Dr. Lindorff says that the idea behind this is ‘that everyone is capable of understanding mathematics and that everyone should master the concept to some degree.’

He says that some children can be more expert, and some can have more depth in it. We often think that some people are good at math and some are not. This is not a valid concept, and even Singapore Math does not accept this view.

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Can Singaporean math work anywhere else?

Dr Lundroff says it is difficult for other countries to replicate Singapore directly.
This method is already used in many other countries. These include the United States, Canada, Israel, Great Britain, and many others.

However, Dr Lindorff believes that the success of the Singapore Math’s Methodology is closely linked to Singapore’s educational culture and history.

“I don’t think you can just take this approach and implement it in other countries,” he said.

‘Singapore has an interesting and unique history and a very small place. Thinking about educational change in Singapore differs from thinking about change in the UK or the US.

She also points out that teachers in Singapore have brighter career prospects and better support than in other countries and that Singaporean children’s attitudes towards mathematics education are also a key factor in their success in mathematics here.

She asks what people think about the benefits of learning mathematics. Is it just like solving some questions for homework, or is it about solving their life problems?’