How cool is it that Oberlin school children are participating in similar games with the goal of making math fun as children at Bendemeer Primary School in Singapore as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp2nqf4A-XE?
It’s very cool because in the last 6 offerings of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (an international comparative study to assess student knowledge and skills that has been offered every 4 years since 1995 to 4th and 8th graders), Singapore has consistently ranked among the top scoring countries – most often holding the top position.
It wasn’t always that way. Education in Singapore has transformed from the mid-40s building upon unification of the nation through education for the masses to teaching technical skills to providing multiple pathways to meet the needs of all students to a ‘bottom up’ approach with teachers and principals making curricular decisions to students being able to think for themselves in order to be problem solvers. Today the guiding principle for education in Singapore is “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” and the leading initiative is “Teach Less, Learn More.”
I think many of us can relate to the sigh and sheepish smile when parent volunteer Mdm Nadia Chin says “During our time, we didn’t have these (types) of things,” as she talks about the math games. So many adults today did not have a positive math experience as a student; they can’t imagine the possibility of children loving math but rather enduring it. Ms Jennie Hon, Head of the Mathematics Department at Bendemeer Primary School, believes that by being engaged in learning through relevant activities and playing games, children develop more positive attitudes toward their learning. At Bendemeer, the children “infuse mathematics into their everyday (lives) and deal with the subject confidently,” according to Hon.
At the Du Bois Project we see that children who love math learn math, and that children learn to love math when they have fun doing it. Just like the program at Bendemeer Primary School in Singapore, we use running, manipulatives and enthusiastic volunteers to make math fun.