We all seen tables like this from Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) with the various countries of the world ranked. Pisa is run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Pisa table from 2015 (below) shows how 15-year-olds perform in Maths, but they take tests in science and reading too. In 2015 the tests were taken by 540,000 pupils in 72 countries and they are taken every three years.
So I was intrigued to talk to teachers from Hong Kong when they came over to visit us for six weeks in May and June 2018. They came to the school to learn about our approach to STEM integration and Maths teaching across the curriculum. While they were here they observed and taught a range of STEM lessons, particularly those where there was a strong overlap between the STEM subjects. They visited nearby schools and observed different curriculum models, they talked with the universities and local employers too.
One of the activities I ask both teacher trainees and teacher is this Venn diagram (those of you who have been to #mathsconf may well have seen it before).
At #mathsconf I asked about 40 maths teachers to complete the grid and this is a summary of their replies. The larger the font the more common the reply, I’ve only included the top 3 in each category.
So what would happen if I asked 20 teachers from Hong Kong the very same question? From a country which is 2nd in the world for Maths teaching? Well, something like this!
It shows some of the same concerns, the conflict between teaching to the test and allowing students to expand the skills that teachers think are those needed by mathematicians, as seen by the range and number of entries in the for STEM not TESTS section. But it also shows how teachers’ perception of what the tests are looking to examine are very different in UK teachers ans HK teachers. For example, the significance of analytical and problem solving skills in HK teachers – it looks a lot like the anticipated shape of exams in England. Perhaps we should be going to Hong Kong and seeing what they do there first!