Many of us have already heard about Singapore Math. In fact, there are now many schools in the country which have adapted Singapore Math into their curriculum. To learn more about this concept, we spoke to Ms. Joanne Sison, a co-owner of Mathemagis, a pioneer of the Singapore Math Enrichment Program in the Philippines.
Simply put, Singapore Math is a term used to distinguish this novel method against the traditional way of teaching Math. Singapore’s Ministry of Education is in charge of developing the Math curriculum, framework and methods of teaching, which in turn is applied in their schools. The consistent top ranking results of Singapore students in various examinations was attributed by their government to their Math curriculum, and this is how many foreign countries took notice, including the Philippines.
To further understand Singapore Math, Joanne enumerated the reasons why it is an effective approach:
Topic presentation follows the concrete->visual-> abstract progression. This is developmentally appropriate especially for young children who learn best through concrete and visual ways. A lot of students get turned off with math because of its very abstract nature and this concrete and visual presentation makes it more accessible to a majority of students.
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Whys are taught before the hows. The concepts need to be learned first before the procedures/algorithm. For example, a student needs to understand the concept of multiplication as putting together equal groups before knowing that 2x2=4. Moreover, knowledge of formulas and shortcuts take a backseat over understanding the concept, such that, after a student understands the concept - for example, finding an area of an enclosed figure - they are able to derive or come up with the formula on their own through the series of exercises presented.