Great stories happen when someone decides to play and break with the same current. It is the firm conviction of wanting to transform our environment. In other words, when we stop working systematically and decide to play. That's what I was thinking when I was watching the Singapore Method, an alternative to teach mathematics to children in a different way that seeks to re-excite and motivate them by numbers.
In Chile, the Singapore method has been tested with several hundred elementary school students in recent years. Obviously the objective is to improve the results of the children and, for this, the schools that began to apply it wanted to see other strategies employed both in Hong Kong and in other sectors of the East. This is how they got to this new way of teaching math.
As a teacher, I often wonder how we can find new ways to teach children different school subjects, in a more fun way. And this I ask myself even more in mathematics because it is a discipline that has been framed in such a structured way of thinking and with so little space for creativity that it is necessary to play and challenge ourselves with new ways to teach.
But since it is something new, obviously these changes bring resistance and accommodation. Think of it as changing a way of learning that is very constrained in our culture. It is not arriving and raising something, but means learning to walk again. And it is even more difficult when they tell you that your old way of walking no longer applies.
However, although it is a difficult change of thinking for centers to undertake, studies show that its implementation is positive for students. An investigation published in the Chilean journal Calidad de la Educación entitled 'What and how much do elementary school students learn about mathematics with the Singapore method', written by researchers associated with the Félix Klein Center, explain that this technique has great potential and effectiveness among students. students. In addition to improving learning, it reduces the gender gap that often exists in mathematics between boys and girls.
To take into account, this method has the following principles:
- It is intended to look at mathematics not from the simple blackboard, but from another eye.
- Everything begins with a story, with a life story that can reach the child. Then they seek to reconstruct this experience by making plastic figures or with another material. The idea is, from these figures, link these creations with abstract concepts.
- Teachers are just mediators of this experience. They take students by the hand and lead them to new paths.
It is a given system to train 'soft skills', that is, these skills that were not previously considered part of academic training. This system is student-centered, it is not proposed from the adult's point of view, which challenges the child to be the protagonist of their own story.
And what are the main advantages of starting to apply the Singapore method in classrooms?
1. Delve deeper into the world of mathematics
One effect of this method would be to discover the reason for the formulas, the reasons that led to the creation of these mathematical symbols, what is the soul of the theorems, etc.
2. Encourage critical thinking and teamwork
As you imagine, critical thinking is precisely what should appear, also motivating that the results are a product of a work team. In other words, empathy, building agreements with another and planning community work are the real objective to learn mathematics.
3. Lets 'see' the math
The great advantage is that the numbers become visible, they cease to be theoretical contents that are not in one's experience, generating a link between the speculative and the concrete, which makes the study of this content more experiential and close.
4. Stimulates the continuous training of teachers
You still have to be attentive to a reality, since this is such a new and difficult system to apply that there may be a lot of teacher rotation. This is where we should pay attention when applying this method correctly. The training of teachers in terms of quality. One can obtain all the tools that this methodology allows, but it must be assumed that not everyone is trained with this methodology of thought.
Similarly, this method is moving us to a healthy exercise. Because true learning is when you touch the chord of the child and make it part of the educational process. It is important then also to review and evaluate if we are really understanding this new learning style deep down.
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