by on 06/11/2014 4882

*Can you give us the introduction of S.A.M?*S.A.M stands for Seriously Addictive Mathematic, an enrichment program specializing in Mathematics. S.A.M curriculum is modeled after world-renowned Singapore Mathematics syllabus and its pedagogy (a.k.a. Singapore Maths), where they have successfully produced many Mathematics champions. In less than a year, S.A.M. Malaysia expanded to 25 S.A.M enrichment centers where some is expected to be ready by end of this year.

S.A.M was founded in Singapore in 2010. This is the only Singapore Maths Enrichment program that originated from Singapore, and taught in Singapore. The company was founded by 2 individuals, Samuel Chia and Lau Chin Loong, who are passionate about child education and have the intention of bringing the best and most successful mathematics curriculum to children around the world.

Singapore’s Minister of Education developed Singapore Mathematics Curriculum about 20 years ago. Now, what’s unique about Singapore Mathematics is its problem-solving curriculum. The key objective in teaching Singapore Maths is to develop good thinking skills to solve problems.

There are five elements in embracing the problem-solving curriculum in Mathematics. The elements are:

- Understanding the
,**Concept**

to learn how to measure and quantify things,**Skills**

include developing children by asking leading question children during teaching to think critically, to find out the facts from the questions and make decision. Here, developing the skills to use multiple methods to solve a problem from using a simple way to advance method is called heuristics approach. This approach will allow different children with varies capability to be able to solve the same problem, hence enable equality in education. These are the integral part of Singapore Mathematics. Children are taught to make the connection and develop the ability to communicate how they get their answer.**Processes**

. This is where we develop the child’s brain to yowl. What I mean by yowling is that we develop children’s brain to aware of the situation, and control the situation. For example, we train the childto pick up signs where an answer is not complete and therefore they need to further explain or simplify it. Many children tend to leave fraction answers as two over six. This is fine but not totally correct, but to simplify into one-third. Some parents might feel this is unimportant as long as the answer is correct. However, this is important for a child to develop to complete what the asked to do. . This Meta cognition thinking capability can be taught and this is how the brain yowls at the children to say, “there is still some work left to do”.**Meta Cognition**

in learning. A teacher sometimes asks a student to find the correct answer to a problem. If the child doesn’t have the confidence, he or she will feel that the answer is wrong and will keep finding for another answer even though the first answer was correct.**Attitude**

So all the things I’ve mentioned are the things Singapore curriculum for Mathematics embraces and teaches its students. These are the keys in developing the problem-solving skills in what we call, thinking kids.*I see. Thank you so much for the explanation. My next question is what inspired you to bring S.A.M to Malaysia? *

Last year, I approached several Mathematics programs because I’m passionate about Mathematics. That was when I came across S.A.M, which was then still very new even though they were established back in 2010.

I was very much interested in the way they deliver the program, their mission statement, their objectives and also the way they present the program. After having observed these, I believe these are the things that are lacking in Malaysia’s education system, especially for I was attracted by their pedagogy that strictly follows “Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract (CPA). This is very important according to child development theory for a child to fully understand any topic they learn.

This is why I find S.A.M has a very unique way of delivery. This program emphasize both classroom and worksheet experiences, which is important in teaching Mathematics. The curriculum also emphasizes on understanding and use worksheet exercises as reinforcement of what have been taught during the class for the concept in Mathematics

It’s also worth to mention that during our classroom sessions, we use our own Mathematical tools that we develop ourselves as well as processes and methods that are uniquely by S.A.M*Does this means that the way Mathematics questions in Singapore school are set very differently compared to the questions for our Malaysian students?*Oh, yes. They are very different.

Singapore curriculum for Mathematics focuses on understanding what the question is about. For example, we asks the students to identify the elements in a question such as how many people are in the question? What are the information you can find from the questions? Will these information helps in your solution? Etc. In Malaysia however, we focus on just identifying the numbers and apply the necessary formula either addition or subtraction. We do not explore or explain the problem to make it relevant to the students to answer.

Singapore curriculum for Mathematics builds the critical thinking part before a student solves the question. The students need to thoroughly understand the question first and picture the situation before answering the question. The teachers also ask probing questions to gauge how far a student understands the elements of the question.

This is how Singapore curriculum for Mathematics differs greatly from ours. And these are the methods that we adapted into our S.A.M programs and the key that makes us different from many other conventional Mathematics programs.

Basically it means that Singaporean students are the top students in the world when it comes to Mathematics. But these studies are not about basic computing or calculating skills; they are more about the ability to solve problems. These studies explore the question of how do you apply the Mathematical skills that you learn in your country in the real world. And Singaporean students ranked as the best at this.

PISA questions are tested on students who are 15 years old because these students have received at least 8 to 9 years of education. These studies focuses on what the students of a country have learned and how they apply it to the real world scenario.

So what you know is not important anymore because anyone can obtain information very easily on the Internet. But how you apply what you know makes all the difference.

Traditional way to solve Mathematical question is about

Mathematics shouldn’t learn through procedural way. It’s more about understanding and applying that you know to solve unusual problem. It’s important to think logically and critically. If you’re not able to think critically, you will believe everything you read. This is because you’re not able to dissect and quantify viable information and derive the result for yourself.

Human brain doesn’t like repetition. It doesn’t work well with procedures and it doesn’t like drilling exercises. So if Mathematics is taught through memorization and drilling and made worse with no opportunity to ask questions, a student won’t be able to understand it. Our brain does not like memorization

So when a student understands something, he or she will naturally remembers it. But if a student is drilled to memorize a Mathematical formula, he or she will find it extremely difficult to remember because the brain is rejecting this method. And if you teach Mathematics this way, then of course children will hate it.

This is why at S.A.M, we really focus on making our students understand by making it as simple as possible. We allow our students to understand the concept and we always use small numbers to make things easier for them to grasp.

This is why we insist on spending more than 30 minutes to explain to the parents who come in for enquiry about the right techniques to learn Mathematics and what we are doing here.

We hope to create that awareness in Malaysian society and help our students, because the majority of our students have problems with Mathematics even though they get high marks. They do not have the ability to understand and solve questions that require critical thinking.

Another challenge is teachers. Many Malaysian teachers are caught in the education system. So at S.A.M we really put emphasis on training. Our teachers need to throw away what they have learned before and relearn new methods that are effective. It is very important for teachers to have patience, passion, and the heart to provide the best for the students.

We want our students to be able to know why they get the answers and understand the process. Many Malaysian students only know how to find the answer but they have no idea why it works that way. This is what we want to change and it’s one of the most challenging tasks.

Why instrumental teaching is applied in our schools? Because it is easier and simple to teach!

To teach 40 – 50 students in one class, it’s a lot easier and saves a lot of costs to teach one way that everyone can memorize rather than investing time and energy to explain the situation part by part. Not only that, our education system also has a lot of syllabus that needs to be completed and teachers are often pressed for time.

If you see the situation in Singapore, they have fewer topics because they would rather spend time explaining a subject rather than rush it. So they use what is known as relational teaching, where students are able to relate two things together and apply that in the subject that they’re learning.

We need educators and individuals who are passionate and keen to nurture young minds to work with us. We want this program to be more accessible and common for kids from different areas and backgrounds. We believe this program can help to develop a thinker that is crucial for the country.

The delivery for this program is not easy. So for those who are interested to venture into this business, they also need to have passion in education and must be willing to unlearn and relearn.

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