Moving beyond the math wars
I'm agnostic on the math wars—I see the arguments to both sides. Traditional curricula don't do enough to teach the why's of math, but the reform lacks rigor on the how's. So I'm excited to see my favorite curriculum make its way to the St. Louis metro area public schools.
❝Wentzville is believed to be the first public school district in the St. Louis area to plan a widespread adoption of Singapore math, said Jeffery Thomas, president of SingaporeMath.com, which supplies school districts and home schoolers with books for the program. Some other districts in the region have recently purchased review materials, he said. The program or something similar already is taught in some private schools in St. Louis, and about 800 schools nationwide.❞
Singapore is rigorous with an inspired visual method of teaching problem solving that leads kids into algebra using bar diagrams. Even those who use a different curriculum could supplement with its Challenging Word Problems books. But this doesn't come at the expense of students who need more help like one of the private schools that have already started using Singapore.
❝City Academy, the private school on North Kingshighway that targets disadvantaged students, introduced the program this year. It is already reaping the benefits of the switch from the way math is traditionally taught in the United States.❞
The U.S. distributor recently revamped the series to match California standards, which should make it easier for public schools to adopt it because the scope and sequence should line up better with standardized tests.
Singapore may use the traditional algorithms, but it still isn't like a traditional math program.
❝William Tate, professor and chairman of the department of education at Washington University, said that a series of workshops for parents consistent with what the teachers learned about the Singapore math would be vital. The program is different enough from traditional teaching that parents will have a steep learning curve, he said.❞
Now that parents are finally figuring out reform math, but the effort is well worth it.