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Maths education: western policy makers look to Asia - The Financial Times

January 21, 2019

Nathalie Sinclair, a researcher at Simon Fraser University was recently featured in a Financial Times article on maths education. 

Math students in the west are reported to be more than a year behind in knowledge in comparison to other pupils in major Asian countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. With schools, colleges, and employers in the west regularly reporting that there are 15 to 20 percent of maths under-achievers in every cohort; the western school system has actively begun to tailor its teaching methods to feature a more personalized approach.

Traditional western teaching follows the method of pushing forward with pupils who are able to understand the material and leaving behind those who are unable to keep up. Whereas ‘Asian maths’ fosters the idea of ‘whole-class’ teaching where no student is left to flounder. Teaching a limited set of topics, building students’ confidence by repetition, and providing further assistance to students who require more attention is reinforced in Asian classrooms. Furthermore, the major differentiator of maths education in Asia is how educators are able to provide more one-on-one support by specializing in one subject of teaching.

Nathalie Sinclair, who is a maths education researcher at Simon Fraser University is more worried about the content that is taught in today’s classroom. She believes that an early emphasis on numbers and algebra in schooling eliminates “the need for spatial reasoning, required for professions ranging from engineering to computing.”

Educationalists such as Sinclair believe that content should be a major focus of western teaching in the digital age.

The full article was published in the Financial Times on November 3, 2015 and written by Miranda Green.

You can read the full article at: Maths education: western policy makers look to Asia

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