math equation

Why Singaporean Students are So Good at Math

Mathematics is notoriously difficult, more so than Biology or English. A lot of students around the world unfortunately struggle with and lose interest in learning the subject.

The Problem with Math

Part of the reason why many continue to avoid math is the pervasive belief that some people are just naturally not good at it. There are people who excel in literature and languages while others enjoy the sciences the most. Only a handful of the population are good with numbers.

That, of course, is not true. The ability to do math is a skill that can be learned and mastered through patience and hard work. It is not a talent that some people came into the world wielding. Those who are good with math sit down and try to understand the subject, not immediately give up and conclude that they just are not a numbers person.

Even American students are struggling. In the 2019 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tested the abilities of 15-year-olds in three core subjects — reading, science, and math — the United States lagged behind other countries. Its score in math landed on the 30th spot, well behind China and Singapore.

Singaporean Students Excel in Math

While the subject continues to pose challenges, Singaporean students are excelling in math. In the PISA ranking from the same year, Singapore ranked second among a total of 79 countries in all three subjects. Only China received a score much higher than the city-state.

Singapore has consistently ranked at the top of PISA since it was launched in 2000. Students are trained to perform with excellence across all subjects, including math, which makes the island a destination for students who want to receive a quality education.

Foreign students can enroll in a global international school in Singapore where they can be trained in math, as well as reading, science, and other subjects. The island has a different teaching approach, especially when it comes to math, which produces students who can go toe-to-toe with their peers around the world.

Building Blocks to Excellence

Singaporeans are not inherently good at math. Their high scores in every global competitiveness assessment are results of the education system which is unlike anything in the world.

Students in other countries are often exposed to different concepts and have to learn multiple skills with the goal of passing the exam at the end of a term. While the method has the appearance of mastery, it often is not the case. The students immediately forget the information they gained from a lesson as soon as they finish their tests.

Singaporeans, however, approach it differently. Students build knowledge grade per grade, starting in primary school. This way, they get a deeper understanding of a subject which they carry into adulthood, and until they enter the workforce. Students do not just memorize whichever they need to get a good grade; they perform well because they fully comprehend the subject.

Singaporean student

Visualization is an Important Learning Tool

Around the world, the Singapore method of teaching math is highly regarded because it is very effective. It is a different approach to learning math. Instead of a teacher discussing how to solve a problem on the board, students are invited to take part in the process. There is a strong emphasis on visualization of the lesson, transforming a concept into reality.

For example, when a teacher wants to discuss division, they do not tell the student a step-by-step guide on how to do it. They present a tangible scenario, transforming a word problem into a visual problem so that students can see it in action. As a result, students are more engaged. They gain a better understanding of the lesson which lasts longer in their consciousness compared to if they memorized instructions and terms.

Approaching a Challenge

Singapore does not reward talent. The nation values hard work.

This raised an entire population that does not simply give up when faced with a tough challenge. They use the knowledge they gained from previous experiences and apply it to the situation, allowing them to figure out the solution on their own.

Singaporean students are highly-inquisitive. They readily explore a concept that they do not understand and dig around for information that will help them better learn about the topic at hand. They are very goal-driven individuals who will persist to complete their tasks.

Singapore has seemingly found the antidote against the phobia of math which many students from around the world suffer from. Other nations have plenty to learn from the city-state when it comes to teaching students difficult subjects.

 

child attending online classes

How to Make a “Classroom” Feel Like Home

Home schooling is most effective when it is done in an environment that is conducive to learning, which, in most cases, takes the form of a classroom. But while students are taking English PSLE in Singapore while COVID is still a threat, how can parents create a learning environment that will inspire their children to learn and stay focused on their studies despite the unusual set-up of online learning?

Here are several tips on how to create a “classroom” at home for your young learner:

Isolate a space dedicated to learning

As adults, we tend to be more productive when we work in a space that we associate with work. It’s the same for kids, who have higher levels of focus when they are in an area that they associate with school. Hence, instead of letting them take home classes in the living room, the kitchen, or an area in the house that is not associated with learning, set up a space for them that is dedicated to schoolwork, such as in the home office.

It is also not recommended to set up a learning space in their bedroom, since bedrooms are a place for rest and play. Having your child learn in an area that they can associate with school only will keep their school and personal lives separate, which can help reduce anxiety and stress levels as well as maintain concentration.

Make it look like a traditional classroom

Some children learn better if they study in an area that mimics the traditional classroom environment. If your child wants to have their own “mini classroom” at home, get some things that can make their study space look like a traditional classroom, such as high-quality tote trays for school, mini blackboards, educational posters, and display boards. Don’t forget to get your child’s input, too. Better yet, let them pick what they want to decorate their space with.

child taking notes attending online classes

…or not

One of the advantages of an home schooling is that your child gets to learn in a non-traditional environment. You can use that freedom to create a learning environment wherein your child will feel inspired to study. Unlike a traditional classroom, you can use bean bags, playmats, standing desks, and other things that will help your child retain focus. If they feel restless, which is common with online learning, the feeling of not being in a traditional classroom can help them regain concentration.

Establish a routine

Children thrive from routine, but with online school, the routine that they’ve grown so used to at school is no longer the same. Help them ease into the new routine by creating a written schedule. When they can see what to expect next, they will feel comfortable with the predictability and are likely to be less restless. It also helps to incorporate regular activities during breaks so that they can get off the computer, such as exercises, snacks, and games.

Minimize distractions

The number one challenge of home schooling is the distractions present at home. There are many things that can distract your young learner from classes, such as neighborhood noise, other family members, toys, the TV, and phones. And sometimes, it only takes one distraction to ruin their entire focus for the rest of the class.

To prevent distractions from getting in the way of your child’s learning, learn how you can minimize them as much as possible. This can include shutting off noise-making electronics, telling other family members to be quiet, and letting out the dog while your child is in class.

Creating an environment that is conducive to learning is the best way to help your child succeed in an online school. While the current set-up of distance learning is not ideal for everyone, making these small adjustments can result in a big impact on your child’s comfort, ability to focus, and willingness to learn despite being in a non-traditional “classroom.”

students in class

Best Practices for Schools According to Choice Theory Expert WIlliam Glasser

William Glasser and his work The Choice Theory is one of the most renowned theories of Modern-day Psychology. It tackles the inherent truth of our psychological problems and why schools in the modern-day setting do not work.

For William Glasser, schools are stuck in an unhealthy cycle of punishing students when they do something wrong. Schools are addicted to disciplining students more than they are willing to teach them. They also do not reward students enough to facilitate a healthy experience.

This is pivotal in enriching how much children can learn from schools and whether they are willing to stay in school. To counter this, William

Glasser explained how his theory could help schools, teachers, and students alike. Here are some best practices for schools, according to William Glasser.

Early Education

Early education is an essential part of a child’s progression. It is a time when they are discovering the world and receiving feedback from it. William Glasser believes that B.F. Skinner’s learning theory is a fundamental theory that should be integrated into various schools and daycare centers. Glasser explains that younger children learn from their environment. They also depend on what is given to them. Punishment isn’t an excellent teacher, and children know that, so through reinforcement, they can learn much better.

Reinforcement plays a significant role in early education. Rewarding younger students, either through intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, can aid them in learning. It can also teach them that school isn’t a bad place. It’s an organization that aims to facilitate play, learning, and growth. All of which are essential for every child as they grow up.

However, Glasser also explains that as children grow up, they start to choose their behaviors. This is something he was adamant about in his book. So Skinner’s operant conditioning might no longer be enough as students transition to the next learning level.

School Administration

When visiting a consortium, Glasser found that many schools are only doing enough to get by. There aren’t many schools willing to lend out an extra hand to enrich student potential, and it didn’t matter if there were a couple of hard-working students willing to take on the extra credit.

Glasser explains that, much like bosses at work, school administrators force students to do what they want them to do, and they punish them if they stray from the path. It is a destructive process as school administrators have the illusion of believing that the current school system is right.

Student writing
William Glasser proposes school administrators to question this. If the current school system is right, why are there so many low-performing students? Additionally, why are the best-performing students not becoming the best students they can be? There needs to be a reform in how school administrators think because they are inclined to let students learn subjects they do not necessarily need in their later life stages. They are stuck in the monotonous practice of memorizing certain terms and knowledge without much benefit aside from passing in class. Passing in class isn’t even a good enough reward anymore. Students are only doing it because they don’t want to be punished. This kind of school administration has many faults and only serves the school itself when it should be the other way around.

Glasser suggests a more joyful school environment that rewards students for the good things they do. Additionally, when a student does something that is wrong or has a hard time learning a subject, they don’t fail. Instead, they are better taught. The grading system should never have a failing grade. It should only determine whether if a student needs more attention or not.

Quality Schools and Extra-Curricular Activities

When William Glasser interviewed a couple of high school students from Alma, Michigan, the audience heard a shocking fact. Students aren’t doing their best in school despite what their grades say about them. A high-performing student with all A’s isn’t doing his best as much as a low-performing student with failing marks. It is in their extra-curricular activities they do their best in, a class that doesn’t even reward them with grades. Why is that?

It’s because extra-curricular activities are fun and teach things that students can apply in their daily lives. They get to learn something they are interested in, and because of that, students are more willing to give it their best than their actual classes. Schools should look into their extra-curricular activities for consideration and question if they facilitate such learning in their main classes.

Ultimately, schools should be a place of learning, not a place of punishment. Many of our current school systems rely on segregating students by grade and judging their performance depending on how they do in classes they won’t even need in the future. Schools should make a change, and at the heart of that change should be student learning.

driving

Getting Your First Car: Here’s What You Need To Do

Buying your first car is an exciting time. However, before you meet with your car dealer and book for your test drive, there are things that you need to take care of first.

Getting your first car, whether new or used, can be daunting and overwhelming. With research and doing the needed preparations, you avoid making wrong decisions and costly mistakes. You would not want to end up with a car too small or too big for your needs. You also would not want to settle with a car loan with high-interest rates or a dealership that offers poor services, whether you or your parents are paying for it. But mostly, you would not want to be a potential hazard on the road.

Like with any major purchase, buying your first car entails many prerequisites on your end. There is no room for impulse buying when it comes to cars. Getting your first car will always be special so keep it that way by making it a successful venture.

Get your learner’s permit.

Driving your own car with poor driving skills can be disastrous for you and everyone around you. Be sure to know the basics of driving and get your license first before considering getting your own car. You wouldn’t want to use your new car as a practice vehicle.

Some states require you to take a driver’s education course. Some don’t. The courses needed for each state also differ. For instance, in the state of Florida, you must complete the four-hour Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course or the Florida DMV TLSAE course before you can get a learner’s license. This course teaches beginner drivers about the effects of certain substances on your ability to drive, state laws, and safe driving techniques, among many others. This course is being offered online for your safety and convenience.

After taking the course, you need to complete the DMV Road and Sign Test, pass a vision and hearing test, and submit a parental consent form to get your learner’s permit. You must also be at least fifteen years old to get a learner’s permit.

Once you have obtained your learner’s permit, you can now practice your actual driving skills.

Brush up on your driving skills.

What you can do with a learner’s permit may vary depending on where you live. You can only drive a vehicle in Florida if an adult accompanies you with a valid driver’s license and only between 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the first three months after you get your learner’s permit.

driving

If you want to get your intermediate license, you need to check your state’s specific requirements. Generally, you should be at least 16 years old, must have a learner’s permit, and you must have completed a specific number of hours of behind-the-wheel training. In Florida, you need at least 50 hours of driving, ten hours of which must be driving at nighttime. It must be certified by your parents or a legal guardian.

You must also have no driving tickets or violations within a year. Once you meet these requirements, you need to take a driving test at the DMV.

Know the type of car that you need.

An SUV may look cool, but if you’re single, then getting one may not be practical. You will just be paying for extra space and extra fuel for nothing.

If it’s just you and you will mostly be driving within the city, then a subcompact may be enough for your needs. But if you will be driving with your family, or you will always be carrying cargo, then a bigger vehicle may be right for you.

Another thing to consider is whether you will buy a brand-new or used car. Buying brand-new may be more expensive, but it has its own perks. A brand-new car comes with a warranty for a certain period to cover certain defects and problems that you may encounter. You also do not need to worry about wear and tear. However, buying brand-new means that you have to pay for its depreciation.

Buying second-hand can be less costly, but it also comes with its own set of demands. You need to pay more attention during your test drive for potential issues. You have to ensure that everything is working, from its electronics to the simplest controls, such as its wipers or the locks of the doors. During the test drive, you must also be perceptive to strange noises that may indicate serious problems.

Once you have chosen your car type and model, do your research. Read car reviews and forums, and look for issues that current users have experienced. It is also a good time to get to know how to operate the car that you want.

Prepare your parking space.

If you have a yard, then prepare a driveway or garage for your car. If you don’t, you need to know where you will park. Depending on where you live, you may need to purchase or rent a parking space. You can also street-park if it is allowed in your area. Be sure to study the parking laws so that you won’t have problems.

Now that you have things settled, it is time to look for a dealership and schedule a test drive. Research about dealerships near you and read reviews about them. Look them up on the Internet first, or you can also check with friends. Before you show up at a dealership, try to get a quote first through e-mail and make sure that the car model you want is available and that they offer a test drive.