Why Math is so Sexy?

Cédric Villani (Field Medal 2010) the French mathematician becomes a deputé (equivalent to Member of Parliament) in President Emmanuel Macron’s new party “En Marche” consisting of 90% non politicians.

His new revolution in French Primary School Math Education is introducing “Singapore Math” : the 1960s Chinese Secondary School One Math (算术 Arithmetic) modified by the ex-Nantah (南大, now Nanyang Technological University) Prof Lee Peng Yee (李秉彝) with the Polya Problem Solving Method aided by visual Model diagrams.

France excels in Abstract (aka New / Modern / Bourbaki) Math but poor in Applied Math, while Asian countries (China, Singapore, Korea, Japan etc) are opposite. This demonstrates clearly in the Asian 15-year-old students scoring Top PISA Math Tests & Math Olympiad Championships (even in the USA teams), while the French young Mathematicians (< 40 years old) take 1/3 of the world’s Field Medals – “the Nobel Prize of Math”.

It is ideal to combine the Asian (applied) Math pedagogy for Primary school (from 7 to 13 years old) math and the French (abstract) Math (eg. Set, Group, Ring, Field, Vector Space, epsilon-delta Analysis…) in high-school math (from 15 to 18 years old).

The wise Cédric Villani is just doing this Ideal Combination of “East and West” for French Primary School Math Education .

Note: In the video (12:12 mins) Villani described his “Eureka discovery” inspiration at 4 am in Princeton Institute of Advanced Math. The same experience found by many mathematicians eg. Poincaré, Zhang Yitang, etc. Read Villani’s book where he called this “Strange Head Voice” (definitely not hallucination!!) experience as “The direct phone call from God “.

Singapour : Les Maths Singapour- Une Methode Miracle

“Singapore Math” was a derivative of ancient Chinese Math, modified and combined with “Polya Problem Solving Method ” by a Singapore Professor Lee Peng Yee (李秉彝) from Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s NIE (National Institute of Education). Prof Lee was the first batch of Nantah University 南洋大学 (the precursor of NTU) Math undergraduate in late 1950s, who obtained PhD Math in Queen’s University (Belfast).

In 2005 during his public Math Olympiad books launching seminar at NUS bookshop, the 70-year-old Prof Lee started his talk on the genesis of “Singapore Math” idea with this famous ancient Chinese Math “Chicken and Rabbits” (鸡兔问题)。

Comments on Singapore Math :

1. The Pros & Cons

Pros: Concrete Chinese Arithmetic , Polya Problem Solving Pedagogy, Visualisation with Models. PLUS: well trained Math teachers, “educated” parents (revision class for them) or hire private Math home tutor.

Cons: Lack abstract training for Primary 5 & 6 kids (11-12 years old ) in Algebra equations (postponed to Secondary 1 @13 years old). The Chinese (上海) kids start Algebra before Singapore kids. Also French kids start abstract (Set Theory) concepts earlier than Asian kids.

2. UK Textbooks follow Singapore Math

La remise du rapport Villani au Ministre de l’Education nationale Mr. Blanquer préconisant 21 mesures pour l’enseignement des mathématiques en France, a mis à l’honneur, par ricochet et par voix de presse, la méthode de Singapour pour l’apprentissage des maths.

Note: French Mathematician Cédric Villani (Fields Medalist 2010) joins President Macron’s Political Party as a deputé (= Member of Parliament).


Why are Singapore school kids so strong in Math ? (World #1 PISA Test in 2016)


Every (Singapore) school is a good school” – Mr. Heng (Former Minister of Education of Singapore)