Singapore Math comes to the U.S.

Franklin Lakes, NJ — By the time they get to kindergarten, children in this well-to-do suburb already know their numbers, so their teachers worried that a new math program was too easy when it covered just 1 and 2 — for a whole week.

“Talk about the number 1 for 45 minutes?” said Chris Covello, who teaches 16 students ages 5 and 6. “I was like, I don’t know. But then I found you really could. Before, we had a lot of ground to cover, and now it’s more open-ended and gets kids thinking.”

The slower pace is a cornerstone of the district’s new approach to teaching math, which is based on the national math system of Singapore and aims to emulate that country’s success by promoting a deeper understanding of numbers and math concepts. Students in Singapore have repeatedly ranked at or near the top on international math exams since the mid-1990s…

For decades, efforts to improve math skills have driven schools to embrace one math program after another, abandoning a program when it does not work and moving on to something purportedly better…

Singapore math may well be a fad, too, but supporters say it seems to address one of the difficulties in teaching math: all children learn differently. In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts. Ideally, they do not move on until they have thoroughly learned a topic.

Principals and teachers say that slowing down the learning process gives students a solid math foundation upon which to build increasingly complex skills, and makes it less likely that they will forget and have to be retaught the same thing in later years.

And with Singapore math, the pace can accelerate by fourth and fifth grades, putting children as much as a year ahead of students in other math programs as they grasp complex problems more quickly…

“All along, people have said it’s too hard, too demanding for teachers,” said Jeffery Thomas, a history teacher who founded with his wife, Dawn, after using the books to tutor their daughter at home in the suburbs of Portland, Ore…

Well, that’s almost the “American” reason for reversing course on any program, isn’t it?

I haven’t read anything about Singapore math. Though “KB” and I have discussed the absence of maths improvement in some of the school systems which have increased success otherwise. Sorry to say, it’s been so long since I learned my basics – I don’t remember how it worked, though it probably was mostly rote. Given my geezer age.

Yahoo’s Yang no longer on top!

Yahoo Inc said Jerry Yang will step down as chief executive as soon as the board finds a replacement, sending shares up 4 percent on hopes the departure would clear the way for a deal with Microsoft.

Yang — who will return to his former role as Chief Yahoo, focusing on strategy and technology — tried to carve an independent strategy for Yahoo and was blamed when Microsoft Corp walked away from an offer to buy Yahoo earlier this year…

Yahoo’s months-long discussions with Time Warner Inc about combining with its AOL unit — as yet another way to boost Yahoo’s earnings — have also failed to produce a deal.

The company is in desperate need of change and this is clearly one way to do it,” said Ross Sandler, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, adding that Microsoft could enter the picture again. “Jerry was the roadblock for the last deal getting done,” he said.

Yang has consistently said that he would sell the company for the right price.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Any crystal ball owners who care to chart the future for Yahoo?

For myself. I’m kind of sad about the whole twisting in the wind-thing these past several months. I’ve been online 25 years. As the Web grew into what it has become, Yahoo was there with several important guideposts along the way. Not the least of which was their home page – My Yahoo – for a news junkie like me, it really was home for a long time.