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October 12, 2018

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British throw book at poor math thanks to local teaching methods

STUDENTS in the United Kingdom will now be able to boost their mathematics skills by using Chinese teaching books.

Real Shanghai Mathematics, the English version of mathematics textbooks used in Shanghai’s primary schools, has debuted at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The series, published by HarperCollins, includes eight textbooks and practice books for junior pupils, the Shanghai Century Publishing Group said.

“We are glad to cooperate with HarperCollins to bring the Shanghai math textbooks into the UK to help British students build up competence and confidence in math,” Wang Lan, president of Shanghai Century Publishing Group, said at the debut in Germany.

“And I also wish the textbooks can be used by more countries.”

Additional books for older students will be released later this year.

Shanghai students have repeatedly outperformed students from other countries in mathematics in the Program for International Student Assessment, a triennial test of 15-year-old students’ capabilities in reading, math and science.

In the 2012 PISA results, Shanghai students were placed top, while British students were 26th. As a result the UK sent government ministers, teachers and other educational experts to Shanghai to see how local schools teach math.

The UK then decided to introduce the Shanghai mastery teaching approach into its schools. This requires every student to completely master a concept before the teacher moves on to the next, building a solid foundation for later study.

A program of academic exchanges began in 2014 under which British math teachers received training in Shanghai schools and Shanghai math teachers taught in British schools.

The UK Department for Education went further in 2016 announcing a four-year Teaching for Mastery Program, backed by 41 million British pounds (US$54 million) funding, to continue the teacher exchange project as well as a range of other activities, including the importation of textbooks.

HarperCollins signed an agreement with the Shanghai Century Publishing Group during the London Book Fair in March last year to publish the English version of the Shanghai math textbooks.

HarperCollins then organized a team of international experts to translate the works, keeping the essence of the approach while making them suitable for students of English-speaking countries.

The series of 36 books called “Real Shanghai Mathematics,” for all the students, are expected to be used in British primary schools.

In 2015, HarperCollins published an English version of well known “One Lesson One Exercise,” supplementary study material originally published by East China Normal University Press.


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