Math Blogging from Japan

I wish I could say I was the one blogging about math from Japan. But, alas, as I sit in my cubicle in Fairfax, Va., there's an American teacher visiting Japanese math classrooms through a Fulbright fellowship and blogging about the experience. Cool!

Among the differences she has seen, according to one post, are the national curriculum, versus the varying state-by-state standards we have here in the United States, and the slimmed-down Japanese textbooks.

U.S. math texts are notoriously voluminous. My Algebra II text is more than 1,100 pages and covers scores and scores of topics. I've talked to plenty of teachers here who think the constant reviewing we do in math classes could be avoided if we approached fewer topics more deeply each year.

The teacher, Ms. Vecchione from the Lincoln Elementary School in Caldwell, NJ, also mentions "the importance of enjoying math" as a topic that has recently been identified as important in Japan.

I'm not certain what she's referring to, but last year I wrote a story that mentioned the controversial government-sponsored reform known as yutori kyoiku, or "relaxed education" which trimmed the curriculum and eliminated mandatory Saturday classes to ease some pressure and inspire more creativity in students. Creativity is an area in which U.S. educators are often considered to have an edge.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  October 27, 2008; 3:28 PM ET  | Category:  Math Around the World
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