Sunday, October 03, 2010

Singapore Math

From people who've actually used Singapore Math, I've never heard a single complaint. Seems to be catching on in some US schools, too (thankfully):

For decades, efforts to improve math skills have driven schools to embrace one math program after another, abandoning a program when it does not work and moving on to something purportedly better. In the 1960s there was the “new math,” whose focus on abstract theories spurred a back-to-basics movement, emphasizing rote learning and drills. After that came “reform math,” whose focus on problem solving and conceptual understanding has been derided by critics as the “new new math.”

Singapore math may well be a fad, too, but supporters say it seems to address one of the difficulties in teaching math: all children learn differently. In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts. Ideally, they do not move on until they have thoroughly learned a topic...

Singapore math was developed by the country’s Ministry of Education nearly 30 years ago, and the textbooks have been imported for more than a decade. The earliest adopters in the United States were home-school parents and a small number of schools that had heard about it through word of mouth.

Today it can be found in neighborhood schools like P.S. 132, which serves mostly poor students, as well as elite schools, including Hunter College Elementary School, a public school for gifted children in Manhattan, and the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, a private school attended by President Obama’s daughters., a company that has distributed the “Primary Mathematics” books in the United States since 1998, reports that it now has sales to more than 1,500 schools, about twice as many as in 2008. And Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math in Focus, the United States edition of a popular Singapore math series, is now used in 120 school districts and 60 charter schools and private schools, the publisher says.


teachergirlbooks said...

I wish my district would adopt Singapore Math. I've heard and read such great things about it. We use Everyday Math. It makes me so frustrated that sometimes I want to pull my hair out. I've got some 4th graders that are still using their fingers for basic addition and subtraction. I'd seriously consider changing schools/districts if there was an opening at a school that used Singapore Math. Thanks for the link.

Ellen K said...

In regards to the cultural overlay of education, there may be some validity. A friend of mine who is a linguist is doing research on how spoken and written language impacts a child's intellectual development. Her theory is that the reason many Asian students excel in school is due to the natural complexity of their language as opposed to Spanish which has remained largely the same language for the last three hundred years. She's already enlightened me that babies cry in their own language mimicking sounds they hear as they cry. Interesting stuff.