The story appears on

Page C5

November 30, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Mathematics: An integral part of global education

MATHEMATICS may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a culturally diverse subject, but the subject is rife with as many associations to Texas Instrument calculators and American Advanced Placement tests as it is to Kumon tutorial classes and Chinese gao kao examinations.

A rigorous math curriculum is also culturally relevant because it provides its students with the skills to compete in the global workforce.

Julie Many, who has taught mathematics at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) for nine years, sees a substantial part of learning math as having to do with logic and reasoning, which can be applied to any subject, across cultures and countries.

"When students reach a level where they can reason in an abstract way and make sense, it opens up a quite a number of other things that make sense," Many says.

One application Many points to is counting beats in music. Year 13 student Misha Ulmet, who studies math and music in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), describes composing music on Mac computers as being "really mathematical."

The result of students having a strong foundation in mathematics in this case speaks for itself: all YCIS Shanghai music students in Year 11 achieved either A* or A in the 2011 IGCSE examinations. One graduate even achieved a full mark of 7 on the 2011 IB music examination, a distinction accorded to only 3 out of 1,051 candidates worldwide who sat the music examinations for the IB Diploma in 2010.

For all of the benefits of a strong math background, parents are still reminded that the learning process itself is not a race. Many agrees that certain students tend to do well at math simply because their parents put a great deal of emphasis on the subject, but that emphasis may not necessarily give them a head start.

"Some students in primary school have math tutors who are teaching them secondary level math, but the catch is that it takes a lot longer to learn those concepts at an early age because the brain is not ready," Many says.

"If the child waits till secondary school, I can teach them the same concepts in one math class."

What is true is that a higher expectation, from family or from teachers, keeps students motivated throughout their education.

"YCIS students develop self-discipline through the more traditional style of curriculum delivery that characterizes our school's mandatory Chinese language classes," observes Joe Holroyd, head of English at YCIS Shanghai's Gubei campus. "This seems to spill over into their other classes and makes a great balance with the more exploratory, or 'progressive,' teaching and learning styles practiced in most other curriculum areas. The result is an extremely academic, high-achieving caliber of student."

YCIS Shanghai's Class of 2011 demonstrated an exceptional level of logic and reasoning skills that led to university acceptances to pursue majors in Information Management for Business, Architectural Design, Computer Science and Engineering.

"We teach students here, from a young age, to think outside the box. This ability allows students to transfer creativity and analysis in order to solve a wide range of problems in any type of job -- including ones that haven't been invented yet," Many says.

"Flexibility in thinking and integrating information is critical in working in teams where each individual brings different skills to the table to solve a problem - and these are all things mathematics students learn at YCIS Shanghai."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend