“Why Singapore’s kids are so good at maths”

Zunächst die Fakten:

Chart: Test performance in maths and science


Dann zur Erinnerung: Nur mit herausragender Bildung nicht in Politologie und Sozialkunde sondern in MINT-Fächern, können wir unseren Wohlstand erhalten und die Kosten einer alternden Gesellschaft und ungesteuerter Zuwanderung tragbarer machen. Noch liegen wir ja recht weit oben, aber der Mix verschiebt sich gerade rapide aufgrund des veränderten Demografie-Mixes.

Was können wir von Singapur lernen? Die FT bringt eine sehr ausführliche Reportage, hier nur die Essenz:

  • “A city-state of just 5.5 million people, Singapore is routinely ranked at or near the top in global comparisons of mathematical ability and boasts one of the most admired education systems in the world.”
  • “In a league table based on test scores from 76 countries published by the OECD in May last year, Singapore came first, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The rankings, based on testing 15-year-olds’ abilities in maths and science, reinforced a sense that western children were slipping behind their Asian peers. The UK was in 20th place and the US 28th in the table.” – bto: nicht zu unrecht!
  • “At meetings of the world’s education ministers, when it is Singapore’s turn to speak, ‚everyone listens very closely‘, says Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD’s education assessment programme. Governments around the world have sought to incorporate elements of the ‚Singapore model‘ into their own approach to teaching maths and science.”
  • “For admirers of the city-state’s educational model, the good news is that its world-beating school system was created in a relatively short period of time.”
  • Maths and science are core subjects in Singapore, taught throughout primary and secondary education. While students can choose to study humanities for A-levels, they must continue studying either maths or at least one science subject until they leave school (the reverse is also true: science students must take one subject from the humanities). From the later years of primary school onwards, children have specialist maths teachers.” – bto: Da kann man nicht ausweichen, was entsprechend disziplinierend und leistungssteigernd wirkt.
  • “Aiming to move away from simple rote-learning and to focus instead on teaching children how to problem solve, the textbooks the group produced were influenced by educational psychologists such as the American Jerome Bruner, who posited that people learn in three stages: by using real objects, then pictures, and then through symbols. That theory contributed to Singapore’s strong emphasis on modelling mathematical problems with visual aids; using coloured blocks to represent fractions or ratios, for example.” – bto: Ohne die positive Einstellung aller Beteiligten würde das auch nicht genügen.
  • The Singapore curriculum is more stripped down at primary level than in many western countries, covering fewer topics but doing so in far greater depth — a crucial factor in its effectiveness, according to the OECD’s Schleicher.”
  • It is taken for granted in the west that some children have greater ability at particular subjects than others. Not so in Singapore, where diligence is prized over talent.” – bto: Das kann man gar nicht genug fetten!
  • Linked to this idea, the Asian approach to maths also favours teaching the class as a whole, rather than breaking the class into smaller groups of different abilities to work through exercises. The whole-class approach allows the teacher to spot weaknesses and intervene swiftly if a child needs help, rather than waiting for them to get stuck on a problem and calling for attention.”
  • “‚Pupils (…) are gently steered away from the humanities and nudged towards science‘, Toh Thiam Chye says. After-hours activities such as a robotics club are intended to instil a love of scientific inquiry, as well as prepare for a more automated future. ‚We want to prepare them for the 21st-century workplace and we also want to meet the needs of the economy‘, he says.”
  • Singapore’s success is not about money. The city-state spends about three per cent of GDP on education, compared with about six per cent in the UK and nearly eight per cent in Sweden.”
  • “A few years ago, a survey by the ministry of education found that more than half of primary school pupils were receiving private tuition in subjects they were already doing well in.”
  • Dann geht es um die Mängel dieser Bildung, vor allem das Risiko, die Kreativität zu begrenzen: “A potential danger for Singapore is that advanced economies increasingly require soft skills — such as imagination or the ability to take risks — as well as hard ones. A system that was effective in an era when mass manufacturing provided employment risks being insufficient for an age when creativity and innovation bring the greatest career rewards.”
  • “And yet, it might prove unwise to bet against a nation that has proven nimble in adapting to past changes. For all the admiration their school system attracts, Singaporeans pay close attention to different styles of education abroad, and seek to import the best foreign ideas.”

bto: Das Entscheidende ist jedoch die positive Einstellung der gesamten Gesellschaft zur Bildung und das Interesse der Eltern an Bildung. Damit gibt es einen Zug in diese Richtung.

FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “Why Singapore’s kids are so good at maths”, 17. September 2016