Comments about ‘Learning from Singapore's school success’

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Published: Monday, Oct. 8 2012 1:23 p.m. MDT

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What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

Why can't Provo or some school district give Singapore math a decent try. If it works like they say it does children love math and math is the big weakness in our schools. We could surpass other states.

JMHO
Southern, UT

The answer to "What in Tucket?" is because in Utah the State decides how much is taught each year. In fact, it has been agreed upon lately that we need more, more, more and not just the basics. Teaching math is much like coaching a sport. You start with the fundamentals, work up to more complicated activities, and eventually a few move on to greatness. However, if we quickly go through the fundamentals, kids will become disenfranchised and lose interest when they can't do more difficult problems because the "numbers" get in the way.

Winglish
Lehi, UT

The previous article about Finland and this one about Singapore both mention that teachers are paid like doctors in those countries and are recruited from the upper echelon of their academic classes. I am convinced that this is the magic bullet we are looking for. Pay teachers like doctors, raise the standards required to get into education majors, and the best and brightest will go into teaching.

Fred44
Salt Lake City, Utah

When we will we learn that you can't look at other countries and pick pieces of their system (Singapore math) expecting something magical to happen. The magic comes from the value placed on teachers, the ability grouping and the fact that early in a students career a test is given that determines literally what those students will be doing for the rest of their life. This test provides great motivation for students and parents to make sure students learn. In other words parents and students own the majority of responsibility for the education of the child. Contrast that to the American system, where parents and students choose whether to own any responsibility, and the rest belongs to the teacher.

Not sure why this concept seems so hard to understand. Its kind of like making my doctor responsible for my health problems created by my poor eating habits and lack of exercise. If we want to "change" education, ALL parents and students need to take responsibility for their education.

Oh and by the way, none of the "successful" countries have vouchers or charter schools, matter of fact students and parents have very little choice.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I will probably have to add that having a homogeneous population also helps. A teacher in Utah could have students that really speak (and perhaps not even literate in writing) Spanish, other students that speak Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, etc. I doubt Finland and Singapore try to mainstream special education students to the extent, if at all, the extent of American schools. I'm sure they don't have the large class sizes our teachers face as well, I think in Finland they try to put two qualified teachers in every classroom. Until we can actually start counting apples to apples these comparisons are silly and not helpful. Plus, a few other thing, do these schools in Singapore and Finland have the block schedule or do they do math every single day? Do they have parents that incessantly whine about their children doing homework to help them master the fundamentals as noted above? I mean, if the only time a kid practices basketball is basketball practice with his coach, he's not going to be good.

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