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What Is Singapore Math?

What Singapore Math means

Singapore Math is the generic name of the math curriculum or syllabus that is created by the education ministry in Singapore for use in Singapore schools.

Singapore's math curriculum gained worldwide recognition when Singapore was ranked first in mathematics in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1995 and Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1999.

As more and more people around the world became fascinated with the astounding success of Singapore students in mathematics, they began referring to Singapore's math curriculum as simply Singapore Math.

Other than Singapore Math, there are also Singapore Science, Singapore English, Singapore Chinese, Singapore Geography, Singapore Music and Singapore Art And Crafts.

What Singapore Math encompasses

Since Singapore Math refers to the math curriculum that is used in Singapore schools, it encompasses all the textbooks, workbooks and other materials that are based on this great math curriculum.

Singapore Math is not confined to the primary school levels. The Singapore Math curriculum extends beyond the primary school levels (first grade through sixth grade) to the secondary school levels (seventh grade through tenth grade) and the junior college levels (eleventh grade and twelfth grade).

The Singapore Math curriculum for the primary school levels (first grade through sixth grade) is also known as the Singapore Primary Math curriculum.

The Singapore Math curriculum for the secondary school levels (seventh grade through tenth grade) is also known as the Singapore Secondary Math curriculum.

Singapore Primary Math curriculum has changed!

1981 Singapore Primary Math curriculum

The first Singapore Primary Math curriculum (aka syllabus, scope and sequence, or teaching structure) was developed in 1981. The first Singapore Primary Math series was published at around that time and was known as Primary Mathematics.

1991 Singapore Primary Math curriculum

In 1991, Singapore's education ministry reviewed the 1981 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and made various changes to it. That Singapore Math curriculum became known as the 1991 Singapore Primary Math curriculum. The Primary Mathematics series was revised according to this 1991 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and became Primary Mathematics (Second Edition).

1994 Singapore Primary Math curriculum

In 1994, Singapore's education ministry again reviewed the 1991 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and made more changes to it. That Singapore Math curriculum became known as the 1994 Singapore Primary Math curriculum. The Primary Mathematics (Second Edition) series was revised according to this 1994 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and became Primary Mathematics (Third Edition).

1999 Reduced-Content Singapore Primary Math curriculum

In 1999, Singapore's education ministry again reviewed the 1994 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and made various changes to it. Various math sub-topics were deleted from the 1994 Singapore Primary Math curriculum for each level from 1st Grade / Primary 1 through 6th Grade / Primary 6. An important reason behind that move was to lighten the load of the Singapore Math teachers while Singapore's education system was being restructured at that time.

That Singapore Math curriculum became known as the 1999 Reduced-Content Singapore Primary Math curriculum. The Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) series was revised according to this 1999 Reduced-Content Singapore Primary Math curriculum and remains known as Primary Mathematics (Third Edition).

2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum

In 2001, Singapore's education ministry introduced changes in the teaching methodologies, learning approaches and assessment modes of primary school math. One of its aims is " teach our young to think creatively and apply knowledge innovatively" so as to "meet our objective of developing creative independent learners". That Singapore Math curriculum became known as the 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum.

Another change in the 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum was the introduction of Information Technology (IT). Singapore recognises the need to instill in children the interest and capability to use computers, the Internet and other forms of IT at a young age, so as to prepare them for the new era. Children would learn how to use IT in their math learning, starting from first grade / primary one.

Yet another change was the introduction of National Education. This usually comes in the subtle form of math puzzles, where children may learn some simple facts about Singapore, such as the colours of the Singapore flag and the name of Singapore's first prime minister, after solving some math questions. This would expose non-Singaporeans to some extra knowledge about a country other than their own, which would expand their horizons and which they may find interesting and exciting.

You may wish to note that Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) is not based on the 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum, especially in regards to the changes in the teaching methodologies, learning approaches and assessment modes of primary school math, as well as the introduction of Information Technology (IT). Only the new and improved Singapore Math textbook packages are based on the new 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum.

Why Singapore Primary Math curriculum keeps changing

You may be wondering why Singapore's education ministry keeps reviewing the Singapore Primary Math curriculum. One reason is to introduce new teaching principles, methodologies and techniques to continually raise the math standards of Singapore students on the international arena.

Another reason is to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of Singapore, remains relevant in the ever changing global economy, and to prepare Singapore students to meet the challenges of the new times.

A third reason is to target the right math topics and math concepts at the right level and age. For example, some math topics were brought forward (e.g. from 5th Grade / Primary 5 to 4th Grade / Primary 4) or backward (e.g. from 5th Grade / Primary 5 to 6th Grade / Primary 6).

A fourth reason is to remove certain math topics and math concepts which many students cannot understand properly at their level and age, or which is already covered at a higher or lower level to reduce the duplication of content coverage.

A fifth reason is to introduce new math topics and math concepts for certain levels, e.g. tessellations and problem-solving models, so as to improve the children's abstract thinking in math.

The 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum is the best Singapore Primary Math curriculum to-date

Having undergone so many changes over the years, you can therefore be sure that the 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum is the best Singapore Primary Math curriculum to-date.

The new 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum was developed to also ensure that Singapore students maintain their grip on the title of being the number one in mathematics in the world in the years to come.

Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) is NOT based on the 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum

Although Singapore's education ministry could have revised Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) according to the new 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and continued its use in at least some Singapore primary schools, it decided to discontinue the use of Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) completely in all Singapore primary schools, starting with 1st Grade / Primary 1 in 2001 and finally 6th Grade / Primary 6 in 2006.

One important reason is that not all primary school students have benefited from the same standard textbook packages. One size does not fit all, and this is true for Primary Mathematics (Third Edition). Some teachers and students also felt that the standard textbook packages were dull and boring.

New and better Singapore Math textbook packages

Thus, Singapore's education ministry decided to open up the textbook market to the private sector, so as to encourage the introduction of new and better textbook packages. Also, the timing was ripe as there were plenty of highly qualified educators-cum-textbook-writers in Singapore. The biggest plus is that the private sector will compete fiercely to produce quality textbook packages, and from amongst the stiff competition, the ones to survive will be the best.

SGBox.com is pleased to offer the following New Singapore Math textbook packages that are based on the new 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum and which have survived the stiff competition:

  1. New Syllabus Primary Mathematics
  2. My Pals Are Here! Maths
  3. Discover Maths

As Singapore's education ministry continues to review the Singapore Primary Math curriculum in the coming years, the New Singapore Math textbook packages that have survived the stiff competition will be revised according to the revised new Singapore Primary Math curriculum. It is presumed that Primary Mathematics will not be revised accordingly since it is not even revised according to the new 2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum.

The following Singapore Math textbook package is based on the 1999 Reduced-Content Singapore Primary Math curriculum.

  1. Primary Mathematics

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