Recent PISA results have shown an alarming decline in Australian students’ maths, science and reading abilities.
The low maths score in particular is due to a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills – skills that begin developing in early childhood – before kindergarten.
Kids need to learn these skills while their brain is developing and while learning is fastest, easiest and the most enjoyable.
Singapore has been topping the PISA results since they first joined the OECD in 2009. They have kept their high-ranking by looking into alternative teaching techniques and recognising the importance of the home environment to a child’s ability to learn.
One of the alternative teaching techniques that Singapore recently adopted in 2003 is something that the Shichida Method has been doing for 60 years – using physical objects to teach abstract concepts in gradual age-appropriate increments:
“The method uses a three-step learning model, which consistently introduces concepts in a progression. It moves from the concrete to visual representation and then on to the more abstract (questioning and solving written equations). Students are taught not only to know how to do something but also why it works.” – Amanda Morin on Singapore Math Teaching Strategies and Materials – 25/11/2019
In a typical Australian classroom, the maths teacher says “Today we are going to learn about division” and begins writing up the necessary steps and actions to solve a division problem while the children are directed to watch.
In a Shichida class, the teacher says “You have some fruit you want to share between you, mummy and the teacher. You have 12 fruit and you want to share them between 3 so that everyone has the same-same.” Then students are able to use their senses and hands to work together with their parents to approach the problem.
When the children are older in a Shichida class, the same division problem may come up again, but in the form of pictures or dots on a worksheet for the children to visually see and count to get the answer. It’s only when the children are confident with the physical and visual representations of division problems that they are introduced to abstract equations such as 12 ÷ 3 = ?
With this 3-step model used in the Shichida Method that follows the order children’s brains acquire abilities, every child is able to grasp a deeper understanding of difficult concepts and have a solid foundation to build further learning upon. This not only makes more logical sense, but results in a significant reduction in children’s anxiety around learning and learning maths in particular.
The Shichida Method uses the same model to build foundations in literacy, memory, critical thinking, spatial recognition, creativity and basic concepts such as colours, shapes and time. Additionally, The Shichida Method teaches the same concepts from multiple angles so that every type of learner has the same opportunities to fully grasp what is being taught – something that traditional schools still fail to find solutions for.
With low-quality teachers and outdated teaching methods even at the private school level in Australia, for Australian kids be able to compete on the global stage
In the past this extra money has gone toward more formal testing – which has only caused students, teachers and parents more stress and fails to address the root of the problem; which is that new teaching methods are critical if Australia wants to catch up, and that these methods must target early childhood education if they want to make the most impact.