Do you wonder what is the hardest thing for us missionary parents here in Curahuasi? It is our concern about our kid’s education. Nothing lowers my mood more or makes me want to come home more than my concerns about how they are doing. Did you know that Peru came in last place in both language arts and mathematics in the entire world (only 65 countries participated) when submitted to a standardized exam. Nothing has epitomized the difficulties of Peruvian education like the subject of mathematics. Last year while David was in fifth and sixth grade they were teaching algebra and geometry. I am not sure that the normal 10 and 11 year old brain is ready for that sort of abstract reasoning. To me it felt like an overcompensation. Because Peru is in last place in the world in education, the educators and public feel there is a need to go faster and faster. But this is at the cost of learning the basics of math. And without having the basics really locked in, you cannot move into the more advanced subjects. Last year my kids hated math. And that was sad, because they all seem to have a bit of extra ability in this subject. But I am glad to say that this year they all say they like math . . . except for the homework. And you know what is different this year. The school is making sure they solidify the basics before they move on to the advanced topics. I am thankful to the school leadership for what they are trying to do to constantly improve the Diospi Suyana school. I sympathize with Cristian Bigalke, our school director, as he tries to bring a new culture of education into Curahuasi. It is not easy, but he is doing his best as he works with a majority Peruvian staff who have never been trained any differently. I am grateful that the majority of the staff is willing to learn something new about teaching. Here is an article from Cristian from the hospital website.
Rethinking the multiplication tables 1×1
European Math Books Utilized at Diospi Suyana School
Actually, the Peruvian curriculum in mathematics is quite reasonable, but the reality is quite different. It is not uncommon for parents to expect that kindergarten children should be doing advanced math. The result is that most children get left behind and never really understand the fundamentals before they are rushed into advanced math applications. It is recommended that a thorough learning of the basic math principles first be mastered.
The professors at our mission school were trained in the application of a new teaching method in February. Two experts from Lima came especially to Curahuasi to explain step by step working with the new textbook. It was originally published by the Stuttgart Klett-Verlag and then translated and adapted by an institution in Lima. The material is didactically very descriptive and it will facilitate the student’s progression.
The learning environments are also becoming more diverse. It is not unusual to see students climbing stairs as they figure out problems. And sometimes the whole schoolyard serves as a great textbook, which always makes the learning material more fun.
The goal at our school is to provide children from all social classes an excellent education. God only knows how successful it will be, but it is important that we go with Him. The first successes have thankfully already been seen. / CB
Interesting. In what language is mathematics taught?
Spanish as you probably suspected. The math books are of German origen, but have been translated to Spanish. So we are often looking up words to be sure that they want division or multiplication in a certain context. Hopefully our kids hear us referencing the commands in English enough for them to know them in both languages in the future.
Cool. I could never do math in Spanish. That’s hard work.
Education majors in almost all cultures come up with really crazy things when it comes to mathematics education. So your post didn’t surprise me. In the United States, our curriculum is still recovering from an attempt to teach philosophy of mathematics (from one particular perspective) in the 1960s and 70s. Thus, our programs are devastatingly boring and only capable of being overcome by those who are naturally gifted or those who have exceptional self-control.
We’ve slowed math down. Peru has sped it up. Ha!