Rediscovering the joy of mathematics: What Australian teachers learned from Singapore
Mathematical Association of Western Australia
Published in The Mathematician Educator, 2022, Vol 3, No. 1, pp 3-16.
Mathematical problems arise in almost every aspect of students’ lives, and mathematical proficiency is considered essential in an increasing number of vocations. International comparative studies such as TIMSS reveal that the mathematical achievement of Australian students is significantly lower than that of students in neighbouring countries such as Singapore. In addition, Australian students’ attitudes towards mathematics decline sharply over time, becoming increasingly negative between Year 4 and Year 8. It appears that, for many Australian students, learning mathematics has ceased to be a joyful activity. There are several factors that may have contributed to this situation. These include social advantage, geographical isolation, educational aspirations, instructional clarity, teacher qualification and experience, teacher training, and access to technology, teaching resources and teacher professional learning. This paper compares school and learning contexts between Australia and Singapore using the background data provided by TIMSS 2019 and informed by the invaluable lessons Australian teachers learned from the inaugural AAMT Singapore Study Tour.