In June we were thrilled to provide teachers with an opportunity to learn from one of Singapore’s finest educators, Dr. Yeap Ban Har. Some 50 teachers attended this two day workshop. The workshop was titled “K5 Common Core Math – Success the Singapore Way” The Matrix Conference Center did an amazing job with the room and food, and all the attendees raved about Dr. Yeap. This is what they had to say when asked, “What part of this workshop did you find the most helpful?”
“I loved that Dr. Ban Har was approachable, was very excited to share with us the methods, and he was funny. He took his time, answered questions, and stayed on task. I want to take him with me!”
“I found this workshop was truly excellent and definitely met his objectives. Dr. Yeap Ban Har is an inspirational teacher”
“I thought the entire workshop was truly excellent. I learned so much and it was presented in an engaging way. Dr. Ban Har is so knowledgeable and personable that even when I was on overload I was engaged int he lesson!”
“Dr. Ban Har is amazing! He frequently stops to answer questions and that is very helpful. It’s rare to find an expert that is so approachable. I am also thankful for the whole trial to Math Buddies.”
As you can see, Ban Har is not just an expert in mathematics education. He engages and entertains his audience and creates an environment for his teachers in which they feel comfortable and have the ability to ask questions and really connect with him and each other.
In March, Ban Har will be back. On the 10th and 11th we are hosting a another 2 day seminar in Danbury Connecticut. Ban Har will be focusing on differentiation in the K5 math classroom as well as assessment. He will use PARC’s sample problems from the Common Core State Standards as well as traditional Singapore Mathematics problems.
This is sure to sell out quickly, so make sure to book your seats early!
The relevant history to Singapore Mathematics begins in 1965. Prior to 1965 Singapore was a part of Malaysia and was a country stricken with poverty and an almost non-existent economy. On August 9th, 1965, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia by the Parliament of Malaysia to bring about peace to Malaysia and for reasons that would take me too long to write about.
After abruptly gaining independence Singapore found itself faced with a tremendous amount of uncertainties and and with no real national identity. Much of the world even doubted whether Singapore would even be able to survive under these conditions. Singapore had problems with housing, unemployment, education and also a tremendous lack of natural resources.
But Singapore realized that the one natural resource they had was their people. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and started the long and difficult journey of finding an identity and creating wealth for their country. They did this very wisely and chose to use their strategic position in the world, and the favorable world economy at the time. They focused on the manufacturing sector. The following industrialization if Singapore transformed the country and due to the resulting production of higher-value goods and subsequent increased revenue a strong service sector also began to develop around the ports of Singapore. Unemployment was all but gone and the country was on its way to economic health and independence.
This brings us to the 1980’s when Singapore decided that if their growth was going to continue, they would have to increase their technology sectors. To do so would require a more highly trained and educated work force and as a result Singapore prioritized building a strong education system. In doing this they knew mathematics would have to be central to the results they wanted to achieve.
Before 1980, Singapore imported all of its mathematics text books and curriculum from other countries. But when Singapore decided to strengthen their education system they knew this would call for a dramatic knew approach to their mathematics instruction. The Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS) was established, and one of their main jobs was to develop textbooks for Singapore’s primary and secondary students. The CDIS worked hand in hand with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and together they developed learning goals that focused on problem solving and heuristic model drawing (creating various diagrams to solve complicated and challenging problems). In 1982, the first Singapore math program was created. Marshall Cavendish, the developer of Math Buddies, co-published the text book series with the Ministry of Education.
As a result of their focus, creativity and hard work to provide their children with the best education they could, Singapore enjoyed even greater economical growth and has consistently ranked in the top three nations in the world in studies such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). They have been in the top three since 1995.
Marshall Cavendish was their at the beginning and continues to the number one publisher in Singapore.
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