What Is S.A.M?
About Singapore Math
As a result of a monumental change that took place in 1982 within the Singaporean education system, today Singapore students are ranked amongst the highest in the world in Mathematics and Science.
In the years preceding the 1980’s, Singapore, a third world country, ranked at the lowest levels in education, comparable to other third world countries. In 1982, a revolutionary change took place. The Singapore government mandated the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Singapore to overhaul its entire education system with the ultimate goal of increasing students’ understanding in Math, Sciences and Literature.
Prior to the 1980’s, the method by which mathematics was being taught emphasized procedural and computational mathematics. With the advent of calculators and computers, the MOE of Singapore understood that mathematics had to become more than just a student’s ability to solve equations using calculations and memorized procedures. They understood that future success in math would hinge on the student’s ability to understand the math itself.
The paradigm shift that took place in the early 1980’s was the realization that problem solving, not computational and procedural learning, was to be the foundation for the future of Singapore Mathematics. Armed with this new directive, the MOE set out to build a world-class education system based on applying different leading psychological, educational, and socio-economic studies of the day. These studies dealt with the best ways to teach information, the best ways to learn information, the best ways to retain information, and the best ways to understand information.
Many other countries may acknowledge the importance of problem solving in mathematics, but no other country has embraced problem solving as the core of its mathematics program. Singapore recognized the importance of problem solving and developed methodologies to effectively give their students the tools that were needed to become proficient problem solvers in math and in all other aspects of their lives.
Singapore Math uses unique and effective techniques to teach problem solving. The Bar Model Method is one such technique. This method is used as a visual approach allowing children to understand, interpret and conceptualize word problems by translating the words of the problem into a visual representation. Since 1981, the science was and continues to be indisputable. Visualization is a much more effective tool compared to comprehension alone when decoding critical information in problems. Based on Singapore’s overall success, this decoding process proves transferable to other aspects of life.
Singapore students continue to rank highest in the world in Mathematics and Science, but more importantly Singapore as a nation of no natural resources, continues to be one of the wealthiest nations of the world.
To learn more about Singapore’s global ranking in mathematics, click here.