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Britain Turns to Chinese Textbooks to Improve Its Math Scores


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#1 Queen's Mine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 01:56 AM

https://mobile.nytim...g&start=40&sa=N


Britain Turns to Chinese Textbooks to Improve Its Math Scores


BEIJING — Educators around the world were stunned when students in Shanghai came first in their international standardized testing debut, in 2010, besting their counterparts in dozens of countries in what some called a Sputnik-like moment.

Now, some British schools will try to replicate that success by using translated textbooks that are otherwise all but identical to those in public elementary schools around Shanghai.

Starting in January, teachers in England will have the option of using “Real Shanghai Mathematics,” a series of 36 textbooks translated directly from Chinese into English. The only difference? The renminbi symbols will be replaced by British pound signs.

“All this time, Asians have been learning from the Western education system,” said Yong Zhao, a professor of education at University of Kansas. “Suddenly, it’s the reverse.”

Western classrooms have adopted mathematics teaching techniques from Asia before. In the past, a small number of schools in the West experimented with a Singapore-style approach. It is similar to the method used in Shanghai, which is seen as having the best math teachers in China.

But experts say England is the first country to forge ahead with a bold government-backed plan to remake some classrooms in the image of the East. Under a $54 million initiative funded by the government, more than half the primary schools in England will adopt a teaching approach to math that is used in top-performing places like Shanghai and Singapore.

“I am confident that the steps we are taking now will ensure young people are properly prepared for further study and the 21st-century workplace, and that the too often heard phrase ‘can’t do maths’ is consigned to the past,” said Nick Gibb, the British schools minister who oversees primary education, when he announced the initiative last year.

The teaching method, known as the “mastery” approach, is based on the idea that all students can succeed in learning mathematics when given proper instruction. Whereas teachers in the West might describe a concept and then assign problems for students to solve individually, the mastery method is more interactive. Teachers frequently pose questions to students who are then expected to precisely explain both solutions and underlying principles in front of their classmates.

Students learn fewer concepts under this approach, which allows them to go into those concepts in greater depth. For fractions, for example, teachers might ask students to apply the underlying principle “part of a whole” in different contexts, making use of pictorial representations and other visual techniques to explore the abstract idea. Ideally, only when the entire class has demonstrated understanding or “mastery” of one concept does the teacher move to the next.

Colin Hughes, the managing director of Collins Learning, the education division of HarperCollins, which is publishing the texts, said that the Chinese textbooks were “significantly more demanding” than the current curriculum in England.

The mastery approach is believed to have propelled students in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore to the top of the rankings for the Program for International Student Assessment, a respected exam known as PISA, which tests about half a million 15-year-olds in over 60 countries every three years.

In 2009 and again in 2012, Shanghai students outscored their counterparts in reading, science and math. Singapore ranked first in 2015. Experts say that besides the mastery approach, other factors explain that success, such as heavy parental involvement and a cultural emphasis on education.

Many Western countries, by contrast, have lagged, making little progress in the rankings over the years. The United States, for example, generally hovers at average or below average in overall results, and in 2015, Britain was 27th for math, one place worse than three years earlier.


Some schools in Britain have already begun experimenting with mathematics textbooks based on teaching materials from Singapore. Another series adapted from China to fit British curriculum requirements is used in around 400 primary schools in England, according to Ni Ming, an editor at East China Normal University Press, the Chinese publisher of those books.

Britain’s shift to the East is a turnaround for a country that has some of the world’s elite universities.

It is a boon for China, which has made no secret of its wish to project soft power to accompany its growing economic might. But those efforts have met with mixed results so far. An ambitious endeavor to establish hundreds of Confucius Institutes on university campuses around the world, for example, has drawn widespread criticism for what some say are internal policies running counter to general principles of academic freedom.

The country’s K-12 education system, by contrast, is something of a natural cultural resource, having been built around the all-important gaokao, or national college examination, a single competitive test that determines where most Chinese go to university.

Besides Britain, a number of other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, and Malaysia, have expressed interest in learning from the so-called Chinese mastery model. Mr. Ni, the Chinese publisher, said that the company was in talks with education representatives in several other countries, like the United States, about adapting its workbooks.

The movement to learn from China comes even as parents and educators in the country increase calls to overhaul the education system to ease the intense pressure on students and encourage individuality.

“Just because England is importing our teaching materials doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems with our education system and that it doesn’t need reform,” Xiong Bingqi, vice president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, wrote recently in the Guangming Newspaper.

In some parts of China, officials have already begun experimenting with gaokao reforms and with teaching techniques that reward critical thinking. Dissatisfied with the education system at home, huge numbers of parents continue to send their children to study in countries like England and the United States.

“Right now, the national buzzword is creativity,” said Jiang Xueqin, a researcher at Harvard who advises Chinese schools on how to incorporate more creativity into their curriculum. “China sees it as a source of economic power, a hurdle to be jumped over to challenge American hegemony.”

Some experts question whether merely adopting Chinese textbooks will have a real impact on math standards. Textbooks, Mr. Hughes acknowledged, are not a silver bullet for education problems in Britain.

But even if the effort is well intentioned, some critics say the mastery system is too rooted in the cultural context of Asia to be applicable in the West.

Mr. Ni said that some of those differences became evident in translating Chinese workbooks into English. One exercise asks first graders to pair objects, like a shirt and shorts, for example, or a flower and a vase.

But at least one pair had to be changed, he said. The bird and cage in the original became a bird and a tree in the English edition — a not-so-subtle metaphor, perhaps, for the different approaches to teaching.

“To Chinese, the bird is just a toy,” Mr. Ni said. “But in England, the bird has to be free in the tree.”
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#2 harlowwinding

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:01 AM

I'm asian and my math is shit 0u0plz.png


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#3 yang yoseob

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:06 AM

giphy.gif


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#4 Jihyo StoleMyHeart AYAYAY

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:09 AM

I'm asian and my math is shit https://onehallyu.com//public/style_emot...


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#5 babymuse

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:25 AM

I am Asian and I got A for math, and A+ for additional math.

 

I go to 4 math class per week when I was in middle school and high school.


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#6 pielso

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:27 AM

Ok good luck to them.


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#7 oberyn

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:29 AM

The UK needs to change it's entire pre-university education system tbh.

 

This is a good start.


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#8 reimi

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:31 AM (Edited by reimi, 07 August 2017 - 02:32 AM.)

is this really going to help any?

chinese kids are good at maths because they spend hours of dedicated work on it every day. not bc of the magic of a textbook. how is giving british kids with already struggling scores even harder maths gonna improve anything. 

 

 

"Some experts question whether merely adopting Chinese textbooks will have a real impact on math standards. Textbooks, Mr. Hughes acknowledged, are not a silver bullet for education problems in Britain.

But even if the effort is well intentioned, some critics say the mastery system is too rooted in the cultural context of Asia to be applicable in the West."

 

Exactly. Educational standards and discipline within Asian culture are worlds apart from those in the West. 


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#9 Boba

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:36 AM

is this really going to help any?
chinese kids are good at maths because they spend hours of dedicated work on it every day. not bc of the magic of a textbook. how is giving british kids with already struggling scores even harder maths gonna improve anything. 
 
 
"Some experts question whether merely adopting Chinese textbooks will have a real impact on math standards. Textbooks, Mr. Hughes acknowledged, are not a silver bullet for education problems in Britain.
But even if the effort is well intentioned, some critics say the mastery system is too rooted in the cultural context of Asia to be applicable in the West."
 
Exactly.


This

Education is a fundamental part of Chinese culture. Back during the dynasties, the only way for peasants to rise in society was to pass tests; the best test-takers became generals and stuff. Poor families would work their asses off and often focus efforts on the educational development of one child in the hopes that they would ace those tests. We adopt the same attitude in the West. New textbooks aren't going to make the entire British mindset catch up.
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#10 PrazzyJazzy

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:49 AM (Edited by PrazzyJazzy, 07 August 2017 - 02:51 AM.)

"Mr. Ni said that some of those differences became evident in translating Chinese workbooks into English. One exercise asks first graders to pair objects, like a shirt and shorts, for example, or a flower and a vase.

But at least one pair had to be changed, he said. The bird and cage in the original became a bird and a tree in the English edition — a not-so-subtle metaphor, perhaps, for the different approaches to teaching."

 

This isn't just a different approach to teaching. The different between the UK and China is their mindset and culture. 

 

In the UK studying ends when school does, but in Asia when school ends that just means tutoring and self studying begins. Most of my friends have dinner with their tutors because they go home so late. My English dad doesn't "believe" in tutors, so I struggled with the heavy workload of a Singaporean curriculum (which is nowhere near as rough as it is in China).


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#11 Kleiyne

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:44 AM

I agree with everyone who said it's the difference in cultures.
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#12 lavender mint

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:11 AM

I'm asian and my math is shit https://onehallyu.com//public/style_emot...


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#13 TheEngineer

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:26 AM

This is hilarious. First the English invaded China because Chinese government at the time wouldn't give into their demands to satisfy their opium addictions (Opium wars) and some racist English people are racist towards the Chinese and now they want to emulate Chinese education culture. But it'll never work. Education isn't prioritized in the west generally. The mindset isn't there although the few English people that do prioritize this (because I'm sure there are English people that do) will be able to bear the fruits of this new initiative I guess, if they have access to this education. But in saying that, I agree with everyone else. You can't just magically fix crappy maths scores by importing an even higher advanced system if the people are already struggling. You got walk before you know how to run laugh.png laugh.png     


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#14 CrazyEnuff2Stay

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:37 PM (Edited by CrazyEnuff2Stay, 07 August 2017 - 12:37 PM.)

It's great that they've finally acknowledged the problem and are applying methods to fix it. However, this situation seems like having an amputated arm and trying to cover it with a band-aid. The differences are fundamental but I doubt that the Western education system will acknowledge that any time soon-many seem to view East Asian nations as ignorant, even though they consistently score highest in regards to education, science and innovation.


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#15 TheEngineer

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 01:55 PM (Edited by TheEngineer, 07 August 2017 - 01:56 PM.)

It's great that they've finally acknowledged the problem and are applying methods to fix it. However, this situation seems like having an amputated arm and trying to cover it with a band-aid. The differences are fundamental but I doubt that the Western education system will acknowledge that any time soon-many seem to view East Asian nations as ignorant, even though they consistently score highest in regards to education, science and innovation.

In a way they were right. East Asian nations (and to a higher degree, SEA nations) couldn't have foreseen how badly a lot of westerners (men) look down on them even in their own countries when they go there for holidays and just whatever they want w/o any respect for the people, the laws or customs like this British guy here in Singapore. In the video, he's trying to pick a fight with a teenager and starts yelling at him. When a bigger guy who's not afraid to stand up to him confronts him, he wets his pants and starts stuttering. 

 

 https://www.youtube....h?v=Ifyz-GNKorU

 

Then there was that British family that got beaten up in Thailand some years back. Initially, I thought they were the victims but there's an unedited video floated around that showed that the British family were the ones that initiated things. The mom slapped one of the Thai guys and things just escalated from there.  

 

Then there's Gideon Yapp, the kid who terrorized his Asian teacher by getting in his face and yelling racial abuse at him. Video starts at 0:54

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=M6NtqmmC8-Q

 

This is coming from a high school kid. And no one did anything to stop this kid. He obviously felt comfortable terrorizing the teacher by way of racial slurs, swearing at him, treating him like he was beneath him by ordering him to pick up the trash. I don't live in America so I don't know, but it looks like Asians are not only seen as ignorant, but targets for abuse for white people    

 

And as for technology in East Asia, western education I think, will always try to downplay technological and innovative achievements from Asia. When an Asian person is "creative", it makes some non-Asians go like "whaaat? but I thought you guys were all soulless, emotionless robots with no hearts!" Propaganda is strong. I noticed Japanese, Chinese and Koreans get this reaction. For some reason this doesn't seem to apply for SEA countries.  

 

Yet a lot of westerners can't even speak another language and laugh at Asians who speak English with just a tiny accent and can speak their mother tongue equally well and mock them. I think many cannot accept that an Asian person is better than them whether it's physically or intellectually or creatively, especially racists. And especially, financially. And these types of people self-implode when reality hits them in the face. It's sad when you think about it. I mean, if your ethnicity is the only thing you're proud of about yourself then that's just...sad. I don't know why but I just thought of SNSD winning the youtube music awards and the comments that came after that. People are so ignorant and racist they don't even know the difference between Koreans and Chinese and think that youtube is solely and exclusively for white people/Americans.   


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#16 Brittany

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 06:38 PM

Nuh uh. Ain't gonna work. The pinyin system makes it easier to understand numbers, that's why the Chinese have am easier time with it.
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#17 Brittany

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 06:40 PM (Edited by Brittany, 08 August 2017 - 06:43 PM.)

This is hilarious. First the English invaded China because Chinese government at the time wouldn't give into their demands to satisfy their opium addictions (Opium wars) and some racist English people are racist towards the Chinese and now they want to emulate Chinese education culture. But it'll never work. Education isn't prioritized in the west generally. The mindset isn't there although the few English people that do prioritize this (because I'm sure there are English people that do) will be able to bear the fruits of this new initiative I guess, if they have access to this education. But in saying that, I agree with everyone else. You can't just magically fix crappy maths scores by importing an even higher advanced system if the people are already struggling. You got walk before you know how to run :lol: :lol:

You're getting too carried away. You act as if sinocentrism isn't a thing and that China isn't a world power. Also not even the Chinese really give a shit about something that happened 200 years ago, so why should you?
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#18 Queen's Mine

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 09:53 PM

Nuh uh. Ain't gonna work. The pinyin system makes it easier to understand numbers, that's why the Chinese have am easier time with it.



Hmmmm.... what it's the relationship between pinyin and math?

It's nothing to do tho
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#19 kokotoro

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 12:49 AM

No, it doesn't work that way. And you know what, the EA/SEA public has been pushing for lighter curriculum for a while now. Just because your kid has high math grades doesn't mean he would grow up to be successful. Stop forcing kids to study harder. Make them interested.


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#20 Queen's Mine

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 01:15 AM

No, it doesn't work that way. And you know what, the EA/SEA public has been pushing for lighter curriculum for a while now. Just because your kid has high math grades doesn't mean he would grow up to be successful. Stop forcing kids to study harder. Make them interested.



True... high math grades doesn't help u will successful or not.

But it definitely will help u how the way your thinking, it's logical and reasonable.
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