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.
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
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
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.
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.