Transcript: Math From Away | Nov 14, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, a pale blue shirt, and a polka dotted blue tie.

A caption reads "Math from away."

The caption changes to "Twitter: @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says MATH SCORES IN THIS
PROVINCE ARE SOMETHING OF A
PUZZLE.
DESPITE THE INFUSION OF MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS BY THE MINISTRY OF
EDUCATION, AND AN ADDED EMPHASIS
BY SCHOOL BOARDS ACROSS ONTARIO,
THOSE SCORES CONTINUE TO SLIP.
OTHER JURISDICTIONS DO BETTER,
WITH SINGAPORE CONSISTENTLY
OUTRANKING MOST.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING RIGHT?
AND WHAT DO THE REST OF US NEED
TO LEARN FROM THEM?
SUSAN DOUGLAS IS WORKING TO
ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS.
SHE IS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
OF THE EDEN ACADEMY, A GROUP OF
SCHOOLS FOR STUDENTS WITH
LEARNING DISABILITIES.

Susan is in her forties, with short straight brown hair with bangs. She wears glasses, a black and white dotted sweater and a pendant necklace.

Steve says SHE IS ALSO SENIOR ADVISER TO
THE BRITISH COUNCIL, THE UK'S
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION FOR
CULTURAL RELATIONS AND
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND
SHE JOINS US NOW WITH MORE.
SO NICE TO MEET YOU.

The caption changes to "Math from away. The British Council."

Susan says NICE TO MEET
YOU TOO.

The caption changes to "Susan Douglas. British Council."

Steve says WHAT MORE DO WE NEED
TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BRITISH
COUNCIL THING THAT I SUSPECT
MANY OF OUR VIEWERS HAVE NEVER
HEARD OF?

Susan says SO THE BRITISH COUNCIL IS THE
U.K.'S CULTURAL RELATIONS
ORGANIZATION. IT EXISTS TO TRY
AND PROMOTE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ONE
COUNTRY AND ANOTHER.
ESSENTIALLY WHAT WE WANT TO
ENABLE PEOPLE TO DO IS TO LEARN
FROM EACH OTHER.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU DO FOR
THEM?

Susan says WHAT I DO IS I WORK FOR THE
SCHOOLS DEPARTMENT; I'M THE
SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SCHOOLS
DEPARTMENT.
WHAT WE TRY TO DO WITHIN THAT
PARTICULAR DEPARTMENT IS TO
SUPPORT PRACTITIONERS TO LEARN
FROM EACH OTHER, BECAUSE
ACTUALLY WE'RE ALL TRYING TO
FOLLOW THE SAME CHALLENGES, WE
ALL HAVE THE SAME DIFFICULTIES,
WE'RE ALL TRYING TO DO THE BEST
WE POSSIBLY CAN FOR OUR KIDS.

Steve says THIS IS A LOT OF
TEACHERS TEACHING TEACHERS HOW
TO TEACH.

Susan says FROM EACH OTHER, EXACTLY.

Steve says WE GAVE A HINT ABOUT
WHAT THE EDEN ACADEMY IS.

Susan says IN ENGLAND WHAT WE'RE DOING
AT THE MOMENT IS LOTS OF SCHOOLS
ARE STARTING TO COLLABORATE
TOGETHER IN CLUSTERS OF SCHOOL.
SO THE EDEN ACADEMY AT THE
MOMENT IS FIVE SCHOOLS WHO
COLLABORATE TOGETHER UNDER ONE
CHIEF EXECUTIVE.
I'M THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,
AS YOU RIGHTLY SAID.
ALL OF THE SCHOOLS ARE FOR
CHILDREN WHO HAVE SOME FORM OF
COMPLEX NEED, AND WE'RE SOON TO
OPEN ANOTHER TWO MORE.
ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF THAT IS,
AGAIN, LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER,
YOU'LL SEE THAT'S KIND OF A
POPULAR THEME FROM ME BUT I
THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT
AS A TEACHER YOU CONSTANTLY
LEARN FROM EACH OTHER ABOUT HOW
TO IMPROVE YOUR PRACTICE.

Steve says ARE THE EDEN ACADEMY
SCHOOLS WHAT WE IN CANADA WOULD
CALL PRIVATE SCHOOLS?

Susan says NO, THEY'RE ALL STATE
SCHOOLS.
THEY'RE ALL STATE SCHOOLS, YEAH.
IT'S A NEW WAY OF WORKING.
ALL PUBLICLY FUNDED, ABSOLUTELY,
BUT WITH MORE AUTONOMY NOW.
YOU CAN BECOME AN ACADEMY
SCHOOL, WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE
MORE ACADEMY, I CAN SET MY OWN
PAY SCALES AND TERM DATES... A
BIT LIKE THE CHARTER SCHOOL
MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES.
BUT PUBLICLY FUNDED.

Steve says THE HISTORY HAS WE
WONDERING.
WHAT THEY NAMED AFTER ANTHONY
EDEN?

Susan says WE HAD A COMPETITION WITH OUR
STAFF.
WE ALL HAVE INDIVIDUAL NAMES AND
SO EDEN STANDS FOR "EDUCATE,
DEVELOP, ENRICH AND NURTURE"...

Steve says OH, OKAY.

Susan says IT STANDS FOR SOMETHING.

Steve says THAT'S NICE.
WHAT BRINGS YOU ACROSS THE POND.

Susan says I'M HERE TO ATTEND A
CONFERENCE ON SCHOOL RESEARCH.
THE RESEARCHER MOVEMENT STARTED
IN THE U.K. AS A GRASS ROOTS
MOVEMENT AND SEEKS TO ENABLE
TEACHERS, ONCE AGAIN TO LEARN
FROM EACH OTHER, TO SHARE THEIR
RESEARCH, TO REALLY ANALYSE
WHAT'S WORKING IN CLASSROOMS,
YOU KNOW, WHAT'S MOVING CHILDREN
FORWARD AT A RAPID RATE.
SO THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IT'S
RUN IN TORONTO, SO VERY EXCITING
TO HAVE CANADIAN AND ENGLISH AND
U.K. DELEGATES LEARNING FROM
EACH OTHER AND TALKING ABOUT ALL
THINGS EDUCATION.

Steve says HERE'S MY SORT OF
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM TAKE ON THIS
AND THEN YOU WILL TELL ME WHY
I'M WRONG.

Susan says OKAY.

Steve says CANADA IS SO
DIFFERENT FROM ALMOST EVERY
OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD,
RIGHT?
WE'RE JUST AN INCREDIBLY DIVERSE
SOCIETY HERE.

The caption changes to "Math from away. TVO.org/theagenda."

Susan says YES.

Steve says WITH PEOPLE FROM ALL
OVER THE WORLD.

Susan says YES.

Steve says THEY SPEAK 130
LANGUAGES IN THE TORONTO SCHOOL
BOARD SYSTEM ALONE.
MANY OTHER COUNTRIES THAT HAVE
GREAT TEST SCORES LIKE FINLAND,
THERE'S MUCH LESS DIVERSITY IN
THEIR COUNTRY, MUCH MORE
HOMOGENEOUS THAN WE HAVE HERE.
SO IS THERE REALLY VALUE IN
SHARING BEST PRACTICES WHEN OUR
POPULATION BASES ARE SO
DIFFERENT?

The caption changes to "Susan Douglas. @SusanDouglas70."

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and Instagram."

Susan says THAT'S MY FAVOURITE QUESTION,
DEFINITELY, BECAUSE... OUR
COUNCIL HAS A PARTICULAR BELIEF
IN HOW YOU LEARN FROM ANOTHER
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND WE'RE
GOING TO COME ON TO SINGAPORE IN
A MINUTE, OBVIOUSLY.
WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY
ABOUT SINGAPORE IS: WHAT CAN WE
POSSIBLY LEARN FROM SINGAPORE?
IT'S A TINY COUNTRY, 278 SQUARE
MILES, IT ONLY HAS 366 SCHOOLS.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THAT, YOU
KNOW, IN COMPARISON TO CANADA OR
IN COMPARISON TO THE U.K.?
SO WHAT WE DO IS WE TRY TO
ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO, FIRST OF
ALL, IDENTIFY WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT
THAT PRACTICE THAT I'M SEEING IN
ANOTHER COUNTRY.
ONCE I'VE DONE THAT, THEN WHAT
I'M GOING TO DO IS IDENTIFY WHAT
ARE THE PRINCIPLES THAT KIND OF
UNDERPIN THAT SUCCESS, AND THEN
I'M GOING TO REFLECT ON MY OWN
PRACTICE AND THINK, CAN I USE
THOSE PRINCIPLES TO IMPROVE MY
OWN PRACTICE.

Steve says BECAUSE PRINCIPLES
SHOULD BE TRANSFERABLE.

Susan says PRINCIPLES CAN BE
TRANSFERABLE.
TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
I'M A PRIMARY TEACHER, I ALWAYS
HAVE EXAMPLES, IF I MAY?
IN SINGAPORE, FOR EXAMPLE, IF
YOU'VE BEEN A PRINCIPAL FOR 6
YEARS, YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO GO ON
A PAID SABBATICAL SO YOU CAN GO
OFF AND YOU CAN FURTHER DEVELOP
YOURSELF...

The caption changes to "Math from away. Singapore lessons."

Steve says FOR HOW LONG?

Susan says WELL, IT VARIES, BUT CAN BE
UP TO A YEAR.
NOW, WHEN MY ENGLISH HEAD
TEACHERS WHO I DID THIS PIECE OF
RESEARCH WITH HEARD THAT, THAT
COULD NEVER WORK IN ENGLAND?
WE COULD NEVER DO THAT.
THAT'S TRUE, WE CAN'T PICK UP
THAT PRACTICE AND PUT IT IN
ENGLAND.
NEITHER COULD WE PUT IT IN
TORONTO.
BUT WHAT WE CAN DO IS WHAT IS
THE PRINCIPLE THAT UNDERPINS
THAT?
IT'S THAT HEAD TEACHERS,
PRINCIPALS, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO
CALL THEM, NEED TO REFRESH
THEMSELVES, THEY NEED TO
CONTINUE TO LEARN, THEY NEED TO,
YOU KNOW, TO FURTHER DEVELOP.
AND ACTUALLY QUITE OFTEN
SOMETIMES THEY'RE THE LAST
PEOPLE THAT DO THAT BECAUSE
THEY'RE BUSY LOOKING AFTER OTHER
PEOPLE IN TERMS OF THEIR
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

Steve says YOU NEED DAYS
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR TO DO THAT
CONSISTENT REEDUCATION OF THE
TEACHERS?

Susan says YES.
AND QUITE OFTEN IT'S THE HEAD
TEACHER THAT'S EDUCATING THE
TEACHERS.
SO WHAT THIS IS IS ABOUT IS
ENSURING HEAD TEACHERS ALSO GET
THE OPPORTUNITY TO FURTHER
DEVELOP THEMSELVES AND LEARN
FROM OTHERS AND LEARN FROM
RESEARCH.
THAT'S THE KEY POINT.

Steve says THAT'S WHAT THEY DO
IN SINGAPORE THAT HELPS THEM BE
BETTER.
IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

Susan says THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS.

Steve says ONE OF THE THINGS
THEY DO.
THE PRINCIPAL IS TRANSFERABLE
BUT THAT PRACTICE MAY NOT BE
TRANSFERABLE.

Susan says EXACTLY THAT.

Steve says IS THERE SUCH A
THING AS A SINGAPORE STYLE OF
TEACHING MATHEMATICS?
THEIR TEST SCORES ARE APPARENTLY
MUCH BETTER THAN OURS.

Susan says THEY'RE FANTASTIC.
ABSOLUTELY.
IF YOU ASK A HEAD TEACHER OR A
TEACHER I THINK IN SINGAPORE,
WHAT'S SINGAPORE MATH?
THEY'D SAY, NO, THERE ISN'T SUCH
A THING AS SINGAPORE MATH.
THERE'S A SET OF... THERE'S A
SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE ARE
A SET OF SYSTEMS THAT TOGETHER
ENABLE TEACHERS TO TEACH REALLY
WELL.
SO THERE'S STUFF ABOUT TEACHER
EXPERTISE, THERE'S STUFF ABOUT
CURRICULUM, THERE'S STUFF ABOUT
THE METHODOLOGY OF HOW THEY
TEACH, THERE IS STUFF ABOUT
THEIR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
SO THERE'S A SET OF
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT COMBINED
ENABLE THEM TO TEACH MATHEMATICS
AS WELL.
THERE ISN'T SUCH A THING AS
SINGAPORE MATH AS SUCH.
THERE'S A SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES
THAT CREATE GREAT MATH TEACHING.

Steve says AGAIN, I'M
FREELANCING HERE SO YOU TELL ME
HOW OFF-BASE I AM HERE.
ARE THERE SIMPLY SOME COUNTRIES
THAT CULTURALLY FOCUS ON MATH
AND CARE ABOUT MATH MORE THAN
OTHERS?

Susan says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION AS
WELL.
SO, IT'S INTERESTING THAT IN
SINGAPORE, FOR EXAMPLE, 20 percent OF
YOUR CURRICULUM TIME IN PRIMARY
ONE AND PRIMARY TWO IS SPENT ON
MATHEMATICS.
IN FACT, MOST OF YOUR TIME IN
PRIMARY ONE AND PRIMARY TWO IS
SPENT ON MATH AND ENGLISH AND
MOTHER TONGUE, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY
THE SINGAPOREAN POPULATION IS
MADE UP OF CHINESE, MALAYSIAN,
AND INDIAN POPULATION.
THE MAJORITY OF YOUR TIME IS
SPENT ON MATHEMATICS.
THE GROUNDING IN THOSE CORE
SUBJECTS IS FOCUSED ON A LOT.

Steve says THEY'VE MADE THE
DECISION THAT WE'VE GOT TO BE
AMONG THE BEST IN THE WORLD AT
MATH AND THEY ARE.
THEY'VE MADE THE COMMITMENT TO
DO THAT IN A WAY THE REST OF US
MAYBE HAVEN'T.

Susan says IF YOU GO BACK IN TIME WHEN
THEY BECAME INDEPENDENT IN 1965,
WHAT THEY'D SAY IS THEIR
EDUCATION SYSTEM AND THE
DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR EDUCATION
SYSTEM FALLS INTO FOUR KINDS OF
PATHS.
THE FIRST WAS SURVIVAL DRIVEN.
THEY'RE A TINY COUNTRY.
THEY HAVE NO NATURAL RESOURCES,
NOT EVEN WATER.
PEOPLE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT
THING IN SINGAPORE.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO, WE'RE
GOING TO INVEST IN OUR EDUCATION
SYSTEM, WE'RE GOING TO INVEST IN
OUR PEOPLE SO WE CAN GET THE
BEST QUALIFIED PEOPLE WE CAN.
THAT'S TO DO WITH SURVIVAL.
IN 1965, THAT WAS THE MOST
IMPORTANT THING.

Steve says THEY KNEW THEY
WEREN'T GOING TO GET RICH
SELLING OIL.
THEY'VE GOT NO OIL.

Susan says RIGHT.

Steve says ANOTHER TRICK.
THE USE OF PROPS IN THE
CLASSROOM.

Susan says YEAH.

Steve says IS THERE SOMETHING
DISTINCTIVE ABOUT THE WAY THEY
DO THAT?

The caption changes to "Susan Douglas. The Eden Academy."

Susan says WELL, I WOULD SAY THAT ONE OF
THE REALLY INTERESTING THINGS
ABOUT THE SINGAPORE SYSTEM IS
IT'S A VERY DELIBERATE APPROACH
TO MATHEMATICS.
IT'S DELIBERATE AND AGREED
APPROACH TO MATHEMATICS.
IF YOU AND I WERE TEACHERS IN
THE ENGLISH SYSTEM, YOU MIGHT
TEACH MULTIPLICATION ONE WAY, I
MIGHT TEACH IT IN A COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT WAY.
IN SINGAPORE THERE ARE AGREED
METHODOLOGIES.
FOR EXAMPLE, THEY HAVE WHAT'S
CALLED CONCRETE PICTORIAL
ABSTRACT THAT IS ALWAYS
FOLLOWED.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO LEARN HOW TO
DO SOMETHING, YOU'RE GOING TO
START FIRST OF ALL WITH DOING
SOMETHING CONCRETE, WITH A PIECE
OF EQUIPMENT.
YOU'RE GOING TO DO THAT FIRST
BEFORE YOU MOVE ON TO PUTTING
THAT INTO A PICTORIAL
METHODOLOGY, BEFORE YOU MOVE ON
IN ORDER TO GO ON TO ABSTRACT,
ALGEBRA, ETC.
THERE'S AN AGREED WAY OF DOING
THAT.
YEAH, WHEN YOU HEAR ABOUT
MANIPULATIVE, THEN THAT'S TO DO
WITH THAT FIRST BIT OF
INTRODUCING A MATHEMATICAL
CONCEPT TO A CHILD IN SINGAPORE,
WHICH IS GIVING THEM SOMETHING
TO DO FIRST OF ALL.
NOW, I THINK, IF YOU TALK TO
LOTS OF TEACHERS AROUND THE
WORLD, THEY'D SAY WE DO THAT AS
WELL, WE DO THAT AS WELL.
I SUPPOSE IT'S ABOUT THE
ABSOLUTE DELIBERATE METHODOLOGY
THAT THEY HAVE IN SINGAPORE
WHERE EVERYBODY USES THE SAME
APPROACH AND THEY HAVE A SPIRAL
CURRICULUM WHICH MEANS THAT,
RATHER THAN DOING... I'M DOING
SUBTRACTION.
NOW I'M DOING THIS OVER HERE.
INSTEAD WHAT THEY DO IS THEY
START, WE WILL CONTINUOUSLY
START AGAIN AND REPEAT AND GO
FURTHER UP THE SPIRAL WITH A
PARTICULAR CONCEPT EVERY TIME
THAT THEY APPROACH IT.

Steve says WHAT IS THE... AS
OPPOSED TO THE PRACTICE, WHAT IS
THE PRINCIPLE THERE THAT IS
TRANSFERABLE TO US SO WE COULD
GET BETTER?

Susan says WELL, I THINK THE PRINCIPLE
BEHIND THE CONCRETE PICTORIAL
ABSTRACT, FOR EXAMPLE, I THINK
IS JUST THAT: IT'S HAVING MORE
OF AN AGREEMENT ABOUT HOW YOU
TEACH A PARTICULAR METHODOLOGY.
SO IF I TAKE ENGLAND AS AN
EXAMPLE, BUT I THINK THAT'S
TRANSFERABLE HERE AS WELL.
THE PRINCIPLE WOULD BE, IF YOU
HAVE EIGHT PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN
ENGLAND FEEDING INTO A SECONDARY
SCHOOL, THEN PART OF THE PROBLEM
IS THEY ALL MAY COME WITH
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAYS OF
WORKING OR WAYS OF APPROACHING
PARTICULAR MATHEMATICAL
CALCULATIONS.
SO THOSE PEOPLE CAN AGREE
ACTUALLY WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO
IS WE'RE GOING TO DO IT THIS
WAY.
SO THE PRINCIPLE IS ABOUT MAKING
SURE THAT YOU HAVE AGREED
METHODOLOGIES, I THINK.
IT IS UNDERPINNED BY GREAT
TEACHER EXPERTISE, AND I THINK
THAT'S A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT
TO MAKE.

Steve says YOU DON'T GET GREAT
TEACHER EXPERTISE UNLESS THE
TEACHERS GET TO REFRESH AND
RENEW THEIR OWN EDUCATION EVERY
SO OFTEN AND WE DON'T DO THAT
VERY OFTEN, I GUESS.

Susan says THEY ALSO START FROM A REALLY
HIGH BAR.
AS YOU GO IN TO BE A TEACHER IN
SINGAPORE, YOU'RE TAKEN FROM THE
TOP THIRD OF GRADUATES, FIRST OF
ALL.
BUT THEN IF YOU DO A BACHELOR OF
SCIENCE IN MATHEMATICAL
EDUCATION, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO
REACH THE SAME LEVEL OF
MATHEMATICAL EXPERTISE AS IF YOU
WERE DOING A CONVENTIONAL MATH
DEGREE.
NOW, THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.
ACTUALLY IT'S QUITE DIFFICULT TO
TEACH MATHS.
WE ALL REMEMBER HOW WE WERE
TAUGHT AT SCHOOL.
YOU HAVE TO PUT A ZERO HERE OR A
SQUARE THING HERE OR WHATEVER.
BUT ACTUALLY REMEMBERING HOW
TO... HOW WE LEARNT IT AND WHY
WE LEARNT IT AND WHAT THE
RELATIONSHIPS ARE BETWEEN THE
DIFFERENT PARTS OF METHODOLOGY
WE'RE USING, THAT'S QUITE
COMPLEX.
TEACHERS NEED TO BE QUITE EXPERT
IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.
SO SINGAPORE MAKES SURE IT'S
TEACHERS ARE EXPERTS TO START
WITH AND THEN 100 HOURS OF
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT A YEAR THEY'RE ALL
ENTITLED TO AND MUCH OF THAT IS
SUBJECT-SPECIFIC AS OPPOSED TO
GENERIC.
NOW, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT'S
LIKE HERE IN TORONTO.
BUT IN OTHER PLACES IN THE
WORLD, SOMETIMES TEACHER
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT IS OFTEN MORE
GENERIC THAN SOMETHING SPECIFIC.

Steve says I'M NOT A PRIMARY
SCHOOL TEACHER, BUT CAN I GIVE
YOU AN EXAMPLE?

Susan says OH, YES.
AS LONG AS IT'S NOT HARD.

Steve says I KNOW TWO PLUS TWO
ALWAYS EQUALS FOUR IN MATH.
BUT I READ THIS IN PREPARATION
FOR OUR CONVERSATION TODAY, AND
IT GOT ME THINKING THAT, YOU
KNOW, MATH CAN BE A LITTLE
MORE... WELL, LET ME JUST GIVE
YOU THE EXAMPLE.
YOU'VE GOT A PIE.

Susan says OKAY.

Steve says AND YOU CUT A WEDGE
OF THE PIE OUT AND IT REPRESENTS
A QUARTER OF THE PIE, OKAY?

Susan says YEAH, OKAY.

Steve says IT'S A QUARTER OF
THE PIE.
THEN YOU TAKE THAT PIECE, AND
YOU CUT IT IN THREE.

Susan says RIGHT.

Steve says WHAT HAVE YOU GOT?

Susan says TWELFTHS.

Steve says INTERESTING.

Susan says IN THAT BIT.

Steve says YOU'VE GOT TWELFTHS
IN SOME RESPECTS BUT THIRDS AS
WELL.

Susan says SURE, SURE, SURE, ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says WE CAN LOOK AT THE
SAME THING AND HAVE MULTIPLE
INTERPRETATIONS OF WHAT'S GOING
ON.
THAT'S MY LONG-WINDED STRANGE
EXAMPLE OF SAYING, IS IT NOT
POSSIBLE THAT THE BEST
EDUCATIONAL EXPERTS IN THE WORLD
CAN ALL BE LOOKING AT THE SAME
DATA AND YET COMING UP WITH VERY
DIFFERENT APPROACHES, SOLUTIONS,
ETCETERA?

Susan says YEAH.

Steve says THEN WHAT DO WE DO
ABOUT THAT?

Susan says I THINK A COUPLE OF THINGS ON
THAT.
NUMBER ONE, ONE OF THE
INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT THE
SINGAPOREAN SYSTEM IS THAT IT
INTRODUCES CONCEPTS LATER
CERTAINLY THAN WE DO IN ENGLAND.
SO IT MAKES SURE THAT THAT
FACTUAL FLUENCY IS REALLY,
REALLY EMBEDDED BEFORE PEOPLE
MOVE ON.
SO PEOPLE KNOW THEIR NUMBERS AND
MULTIPLICATION FACTS AND THEY
KNOW THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
NUMBERS, YOUR EXAMPLE OF THE
PIE.

Steve says YOU USED AN
EXPRESSION I HAVEN'T HEARD
BEFORE, NUMBER BONDS?

Susan says NUMBER BONDS TO TEN.
IF I SAY TO YOU SIX.
WHAT'S THE NUMBER BOND TO TEN,
WOULD BE FOUR.

Steve says I SEE.
OKAY.
WE'VE NEVER USED THAT
EXPRESSION.

Susan says NEVER USED THAT EXPRESSION.
IT'S AN ENGLISH EXPRESSION
CLEARLY.

Steve says I GET YOU NOW.

Susan says THEY INTRODUCE CONCEPTS LATER
AND MAKE SURE THAT CHILDREN ARE
REALLY, REALLY FACTUALLY FLUENT
AND REALLY UNDERSTAND THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NUMBERS
BEFORE THEY MOVE ON TO
INTRODUCING MORE COMPLEX
ALGORITHMS AND METHODOLOGIES.
I THINK IT'S ALMOST LIKE MAKING
SURE THAT YOU KNOW YOUR WORDS
BEFORE YOU START TO TRY AND
WRITE A BOOK, YOU KNOW?
IT'S KNOWING THAT, I THINK IT'S
REALLY IMPORTANT.

Steve says IT'S BEING NUMERIC.

Susan says EXACTLY.

Steve says HOW DIFFICULT IS IT
TO TEACH EDUCATORS TO CHANGE
THEIR TEACHING TECHNIQUES,
PARTICULARLY IF I'VE BEEN
TEACHING MATH THIS WAY FOR 25
YEARS AND NO ONE IS GOING TO
TELL ME HOW... YOU KNOW,
STEREOTYPE, ADMITTEDLY, BUT HOW
TOUGH IS IT TO DO THAT?

Susan says IT'S REALLY HARD BECAUSE IT'S
REALLY HARD TO CHANGE A HABIT,
WHATEVER THAT HABIT IS, WHETHER
IT'S A TEACHING HABIT OR A HABIT
YOU HAVE GENERALLY IN LIFE.
SO WHAT RESEARCH SHOWS IS THAT,
YOU KNOW, AS A TEACHER, YOU
RAPIDLY IMPROVE IN THE FIRST
THREE TO FIVE YEARS OF YOUR
TEACHING CAREER.
AND THEN YOU KIND OF PLATEAU.
AND THAT'S BECAUSE YOU FORMED A
HABIT.
AND SO IN ORDER TO TRY TO CHANGE
THAT HABIT, WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
IS YOU NEED TO PRACTISE DOING
SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY.
AND WHAT RESEARCH ALSO SHOWS IS
THAT TEACHERS SOMETIMES TRY A
NEW METHOD AND THEN GIVE UP
PRETTY QUICKLY, AND JOYCE SHOWED
THAT GENERALLY IT TOOK A TEACHER
BETWEEN 20 AND 25 GOES AT
PRACTISING SOMETHING BEFORE IT
BECAME PART OF WHAT THEY DO ON A
REGULAR BASIS.
IN SINGAPORE IT'S TEACHERS
WORKING TOGETHER IN WHAT'S
CALLED JOINT PRACTICE
DEVELOPMENT GROUPS.
YOU AND I SIT TOGETHER AND WE'VE
GOT TO TEACH FRACTIONS TO
11-YEAR-OLDS TOMORROW AND WE SIT
AND TALK ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING
TO DO THAT.
WE GO IN TOMORROW, TEACH OUR
CLASSES, TALK ABOUT THAT, WHAT
WENT WELL, WHAT DIDN'T GO SO
WELL.
WE TRY TO IMPROVE IT TOGETHER.
IT'S THAT NOTION OF CONTINUALLY
PRACTISING YOUR ART WHICH
ENABLES TEACHERS TO IMPROVE.
BUT THAT'S NOT EASY BECAUSE IT'S
HARD TO BREAK A HABIT.

Steve says CAN I ASK YOU A BIT
OF A CONTROVERSIAL QUESTION IN
THAT REGARD?
HERE WE GO.
HOW HELPFUL OR NOT ARE TEACHER
UNIONS IN YOUR EFFORTS TO HAVE
TEACHERS SHARE BEST PRACTICES
AND-OR REEDUCATE THEMSELVES AS
THEIR CAREERS GO ON?

Susan says NOW, I CAN ONLY ANSWER THAT
FROM AN ENGLISH PERSPECTIVE,
CAN'T I?
WHAT I WOULD SAY IS OUR TEACHER
UNIONS AND HEAD TEACHER UNIONS
ARE HELPFUL IN HELPING THE
PROFESSION TO RUN IT.
THEY RUN THEIR OWN PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
I WOULDN'T SAY IN ENGLAND THEY
ARE A BLOCK TO IMPROVING TEACHER
TECHNIQUES.
THEY ARE ALWAYS MINDFUL OF
WORKLOAD, AS WE SHOULD BE.
YOU KNOW, IT'S QUITE INTERESTING
BECAUSE SINGAPORE, AGAIN TO USE
THAT EXAMPLE, WORKED THE SECOND
LONGEST WEEK IN TERMS OF THE
NUMBER OF HOURS THAT THEY DO.

Steve says THE TEACHERS DO?

Susan says YEAH.
I THINK 47 HOURS OR SOMETHING
LIKE THAT.
INTERESTINGLY ONLY 17 HOURS ARE
SPENT FACE TO FACE WITH
CHILDREN.
AN AWFUL LOT OF IT IS SPENT ON
PLANNING, PREPARATION, MARKING,
ETCETERA, ETCETERA.
BUT I THINK... SO I THINK UNIONS
ARE ALWAYS MINDFUL OF WORKLOAD.
BUT WHAT I WOULD SAY IS, THIS IS
WHY WE NEED CONFERENCES LIKE
RESEARCH ED TO SAY, LET'S LOOK
AT WHAT WORKS BEST.
LET'S DO LESS BUT LET'S DO IT
BETTER.
YEAH, EXACTLY.

Steve says WE APPEAR TO BE AT
THE MOMENT INCREDIBLY OBSESSED
WITH MATH SCORES, WITH THE
ABILITY OF OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN
MATH, THE ETERNAL QUESTION: WHY
CAN'T JOHNNY DO SUMS?
ARE WE TOO MATH OBSESSED OR
FOCUSED IN THE WESTERN WORLD, DO
YOU THINK?

Susan says NO.
I WOULD ALWAYS SAY THAT.
I'M A MATH GRADUATE FOR A START.
BUT I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT MATHS
IS AT THE HEART OF SO MANY
THINGS AND PART OF SO MUCH OF
OUR DAILY LIVES.
IT ALWAYS UPSETS ME WHEN PEOPLE
SAY, I NEVER USED MATH THAT I
LEARNED FROM SCHOOL.
ONE THING I DO THINK WE NEED TO
DO BETTER IN LOTS OF DIFFERENT
PLACES IS TO SUPPORT PARENTS TO
SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN IN THIS
REGARD IN LEARNING MATHEMATICS.
WE ALL EXPECT OUR PARENTS TO
SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN TO LEARN
TO READ, FOR EXAMPLE, AND LOTS
OF PARENTS WILL FEEL CONFIDENT
ENOUGH, YOU KNOW, TO TRY AND
SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN TO READ.
BUT ACTUALLY THERE'S SOME GREAT
AND EASY WAYS IN WHICH PARENTS
CAN SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN TO
LEARN THEIR SUMS, AS YOU JUST
PUT IT, WITH JOHNNY.

Steve says IF THEY'RE NOT
CONFIDENT IN MATH IT'S NOT
LIKELY THEY'LL HELP THEIR
CHILDREN?

Susan says AN INTERESTING POINT ABOUT
WHAT SCHOOLS CAN DO TO SUPPORT
PARENTS TO FEEL MORE CONFIDENT
ABOUT IT, ABSOLUTELY.
OTHERWISE WE'RE JUST GOING TO
KEEP RECYCLING THE SAME PROBLEM,
AREN'T WE?

Steve says IT'S BEEN A DELIGHT
TO MEET YOU.
THANKS FOR MAKING THE TRIP OVER
FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL AND
EDEN ACADEMY, SUSAN DOUGLAS, AND
WE'RE GRATEFUL YOU SPARED SOME
TIME FOR US AT TVO TONIGHT.

Susan says IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

The caption changes to "Math from away. Producer: Meredith Martin. @MeredithMartin."

Watch: Math From Away