All children are capable of anything. It’s all a matter of how it is presented to them. This is at the core of how math is taught at Yavneh. It is at the core of how everything is approached at Yavneh. It is based on the Growth Mindset work by Carol Dweck, which was adapted for math by Jo Boaler, both of Stanford University.
Growth mindset is the idea that intelligence is not a set of fixed traits but rather it is something that can be developed and improved through hard work and education. It is getting students to believe in themselves and not to give up when they are challenged. It is about viewing failure as an opportunity and encouraging students to persevere. For teachers, it is about providing alternate approaches and ways of thinking about math problems. Singapore Math is designed to encourage and provide these types of opportunities for our students.
In Singapore Math, students learn addition, subtraction and multiplication facts as would students everywhere. But they also learn the structure and patterns behind the facts so if they forget them, they are able to reconstruct them in their minds. From early grades, children learn that there are multiple approaches of how to compose and decompose numbers and manipulate them in useful ways in order to calculate mentally. Students who make mistakes are encouraged to understand their mistakes. Singapore Math is about students solving problems, stretching themselves and thinking deeply. Yavneh’s fundamental belief of learning in community lives in our math program as our students share their ideas, work collaboratively and learn from each other’s successes and mistakes. Conceptual, procedural and factual understanding is developed through problem-solving and carefully structured practice and as a result, students learn how to think deeply and appreciate mathematics.
These pedagogical approaches are designed to help promote cognitive flexibility and a growth mindset that will help students well beyond challenges in math. We are taught in Pirkei Avot, “turn it and turn it, for everything is in it”. While this idea refers to our study of Torah, I feel that it is at the root of our study or math as well. The Singapore Math curriculum is designed so that our math studies can be accessed from multiple perspectives. Viewing mathematical concepts from just the right angle enables a math connection to be made for each and every one of our students. Shabbat Shalom – Morah Danielle