kitchen table math, the sequel: Dobbs Ferry adopts Singapore Math

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dobbs Ferry adopts Singapore Math

District adds new program to Springhurst

Robyne Camp, who was elected to the board in May, has asked the district to pilot Primary Mathematics in 2 first grade classes next fall and to give parents the choice of enrolling their child in the pilot class or in a class using Trailblazers.

This passage is one to cite often:

Dobbs Ferry isn’t alone in rethinking its approach to teaching math. In recent years, there has been a shift away from more traditional methodology, including so-called “reform” math programs like Trailblazers which have drawn criticism from some teachers and parents.


Catherine Johnson said...

including so-called “reform” math programs like Trailblazers which have drawn criticism from some teachers and parents

also some mathematicians

I sense another letter to the editor coming on

Susan said...

Singapore Maths has reached the UK at last -briefly.

SteveH said...

"Singapore Maths has reached the UK at last -briefly."

Yes, but the premise of the article is all wrong. I posted the following on after their link to the same article.

"It sounds crazy but Singapore has shot up the league tables by dropping traditional methods from its maths lessons and getting children to be creative."

This premise is not proven in any way, shape, or form. The analysis is misleading and shallow. It's not the creativity.

"As Singapore moved away from traditional methods to Western-style creativity and discovery learning,...

Well, then what's the big screw-up in the US? Let's just blame the kids, parents, and society.

"England moved in the opposite direction, bringing back compulsory times tables and tests for mental arithmetic."

Yup, those Singapore kids got to the top without hard work and practice; without knowing what 6*7 is in fifth grade. Maybe it's genetics. Maybe it's society. Maybe educators should look in the mirror.

"There is more emphasis in Singapore maths, however, on gaining a good understanding of the basics before moving on, ..."

Hard work and mastery. What do we get in the US? Everyday Math which says that you can "trust the spiral". US educators will look at this article and see only what they want to see.

"Singaporean students are more successful in mathematics than their US counterparts because Singapore has a world-class mathematics system with quality components aligned to produce students who learn mathematics to mastery,"

Imagine. Grade-by-grade mastery, not developmentally appropriate mumbo-jumbo that says that kids will learn eventually if you spiral through the material enough times. If they don't, then it's their own fault. Good ol' natural learning. How convenient that it removes all responsibility from the school.

The problem is that even if schools in the US start to use Singapore Math (which I would love), they will screw it up unless they enforce grade-by-grade mastery. Creativity won't do the job, mastery will. Balance won't do the job either. Ensuring grade-by-grade mastery will. The onus is on the school, not the students. But what do we get in the US? Trust the spiral and blame the students. If you wait long enough, all problems look like they are the fault of the student, parent, or society. With a little luck, even the student will say that they are just not good in math.

SteveH said...

How can a school that uses full-inclusion adopt Singapore Math? (I don't know what Dobbs Ferry does, so I'm not pointing at them in particular.) Do they think that the solution to the problem of math is just a new curriculum? Is there something magic about Singapore Math that makes sure that all kids know what 6*7 is in fifth grade without any change in grade-by-grade expectations? Do they think that teachers can just go through the motions without any extra hard work of ensuring mastery?

Anonymous said...

You don't judge a book's effectiveness by judging the kids. Singapore is a complete math program. Singapore is a curriculum because it has standards and assessment. It was developed for students who's home language is not English. In the US, there is a different development process and this is where you find fault. Your problem is not cultural - it is structural. Culture you live with, structure you can change - but you need to have an open mind.

Barry Garelick said...

You don't judge a book's effectiveness by judging the kids.

Absolutely. The culture may produce kids who crave learning math, but if you have a school system with a lousy curriculum/textbook/standards, they won't learn math in school.

Anonymous said...

Our district is adding Singapore too.

I know many homeschoolers that use Singapore but NONE that use Everyday Mathematics. I consider this change good news since homeschoolers are such a diverse group.