Singapore method

What is the Singapore method?

Singapore students are known to be the best in the world in mathematics. Indeed, since the 1990s, the country has been at the top of all international rankings every year. The reason ? Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has decided to train leaders in the fields of mathematics and technology to rebuild and develop. Now, many countries like France are inspired by this so-called “Singapore” method. Here are the principles.

What is the Singapore method?

The Singapore method is intended for children in kindergarten and primary schools . It is inspired by school books designed by the Singapore Ministry of Education.

The method is based on a long and in-depth teaching of mathematics . The aim is to offer very concrete situations to children to help them love and understand mathematics.

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For this, the Singapore method is organized into thematic chapters based on visuals . Students manipulate objects to better understand a situation in a concrete way. They can then move on to an understanding of the abstract . At the end of the chapter, each child reformulates with a very simple sentence what he has learned.

What are its principles?

In the Singapore method, all the basic notions of math are learned: operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, fraction, decimals and geometry.

The problems posed in mathematics are represented pictorially . The student moves from a concrete situation to an abstract situation . For this, he begins by observing, touching and manipulating objects such as small sticks, beads, cubes… All these objects are then replaced by images. The teacher ends up showing how to represent what has just been learned with mathematical symbols .

For example, to learn to count to 5, the teacher will give the child 5 objects to practice counting. Then, when this exercise is acquired, the child must do the same with images that represent apples, for example. Finally, the teacher shows the symbol + and can note 1+1+1+1+1 = 5.

Is the method effective?

The Singapore method is known to be effective as the state of Singapore ranks among the best in international rankings that measure students’  level of knowledge .

Thus, in the TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) ranking, which measures the performance in mathematics and science of students at the end of CM1, Singapore has been in first or second place since 1995. This position is similar in the ranking Pisa since 2008. Pisa is a Program for International Student Assessment that aims to test the skills of 15-year-old students in reading, science and mathematics.

However, it should be noted that the success of Singaporean students and their level is also due to a very competitive education system, in which children can sometimes be very stressed . Contrary to the slow parenting trend in the West, Singaporean parents put a lot of pressure on their children to do well in school, often at the expense of leisure.

Can we compare the Singapore method with the Montessori method?

The Singapore method is reminiscent of the Montessori method in some aspects. Indeed, we find in these two pedagogical methods the principle of manipulation of objects. To understand an abstract principle, the child must touch and find meaning in what he experiences in class. Learning is done through practical workshops that replace the speeches of teachers of traditional methods.

The similarities between these two pedagogical methods come from the fact that the group of experts in charge of developing the Singapore programs drew inspiration from different pedagogies, in particular that of Maria Montessori .

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