The Star Malaysia

Math method gets the nod

Chinese style of teaching proven superior, says British study


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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