In Shanghai, students are better at maths than anywhere else in the world. According to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, Shanghai maths students are three years ahead of the PISA average. That means a 15-year-old in Shanghai is better at maths than most 18-year-olds in the UK. And, 55% of students are considered ‘top performers’.
Behind these impressive results is the Shanghai ‘mastery’ approach to teaching maths, which assumes every pupil can be a maths master. There is no streaming according to ability, the highly trained, specialist teacher moves slowly through topics and does not move on until every single pupil gets it. And, so the foundations are laid for a rock solid mathematical understanding.
But with criticisms levelled at the high-pressure Asian schooling system, where success is often underpinned by hours of homework and extra tuition, is the mastery maths method an approach our imagined perfect country should adopt?
Based on the testimonies of teachers, parents and pupils recorded in Shanghai, as well as in a UK school that has adopted the Shanghai mastery maths method, the team discuss the pros and cons with the help of Anne Watson, emeritus professor of Mathematics Education at Oxford University.
Visit the My Perfect Country: Shanghai-site to listen to the episode.
The independent review on The Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta has now been delivered to the government. The report underlines our failure to grasp that our economies are “embedded within Nature, and not external to it.” We rely on nature to “provide us with food, water and shelter; regulate our climate and disease; maintain nutrient cycles and oxygen production; and provide us with spiritual fulfilment and opportunities for recreation and recuperation which can enhance our health and well-being.”Read More
On 4 August 2020, a massive explosion at Beirut’s port killed at least 200 people and caused up to $15bn in damage to buildings and infrastructure – including the destruction of the public electricity company building. It was the latest blow for a country battling a 30-year energy crisis and facing chronic shortages as a result of an ageing infrastructure based around fossil fuels.Read More
In 1945, the UK’s welfare state was set up to address the want, need and misery caused by unemployment. Seventy-five years later, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had almost full employment in the UK – and yet we still have massive levels of poverty and precarity experienced by people in work.Read More