Math method gets the nod

Chi­nese style of teach­ing proven su­pe­rior, says British study

The Star Malaysia - - WORLD -

BEI­JING: A new British re­search has con­firmed for the first time that chil­dren taught math us­ing a Chi­nese-style method fare much bet­ter than their peers, back­ing a de­ci­sion to use such tech­niques in pri­mary schools in Bri­tain.

An in­de­pen­dent study by Ox­ford Univer­sity shows pupils taught in a ver­sion of Asian “mas­tery” meth­ods do “sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter”.

The re­search looked specif­i­cally at the In­spire Maths pro­gramme, widely used in Sin­ga­pore, and in which Shang­hai pupils have also been shown to ex­cel.

In­ter­est was prompted by the suc­cess of Shang­hai and Sin­ga­pore in 2012 in in­ter­na­tional rank­ings that showed how 15-year-olds com­pared in math. Shang­hai was tops, Sin­ga­pore sec­ond and Bri­tain ranked 26th.

“Over­all, we found pos­i­tive ev­i­dence that In­spire Maths ben­e­fited chil­dren’s maths achieve­ment and sup­ported teach­ers’ pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment,” said James Hall, lead au­thor of the Ox­ford study.

In the sys­tem, as chil­dren progress to­gether, their con­fi­dence is built up us­ing high-qual­ity text­books.

The method in­tro­duces core con­cepts that are bro­ken down into small steps, start­ing with the use of real-life ob­jects and draw­ings to help them un­der­stand.

This con­trasts with the British prac­tice of more in­di­vid­ual teach­ing, games and mem­o­ri­sa­tion.

But a re­cent trend has been to adopt Chi­nese teach­ing meth­ods.

In July, the British govern­ment said it would spend £41mil (RM216.7mil) over four years to sup­port 8,000 pri­mary schools’ use of “mas­tery” tech­niques.

Around 700 teach­ers will be trained to sup­port schools us­ing the method. Schools Min­is­ter Nick Gibb said an ex­change pro­gramme for teach­ers from China would con­tinue for the fol­low­ing two years to strengthen math teach­ing in pri­mary schools.

Scott Welling­ton, a teacher at Lin­den Pri­mary School, said: “I was ini­tially scep­ti­cal about a text­book scheme, but I quickly saw the con­cep­tual un­der­stand­ing of the Sin­ga­pore ap­proach.

“In­spire Maths has re­ally opened our eyes and as a re­sult we are now creat­ing very con­fi­dent mathematic­ians.”

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