A focus on problem solving, visualization, model drawing

Mountain Lake Christian overhauls math curriculum



Mountain Lake Christian (MLC) announced today (Friday, July 7) the implementation of a new math curriculum for grades K-8. This follows the introduction, last year, of a new curriculum in grades 9-12.

The new curriculum, which comes as the result of a two-year review of the math program, is based on the Singapore method.

Singapore Math, as it has been dubbed, differs from standard math curricula in three ways:

  • It focuses more heavily on problem solving than abstract reasoning.
  • It relies more heavily on visualization.
  • It uses model drawing to solve word problems.

Many adults credit the model drawing they learned in their Singapore math classes with helping them solve problems even today.

The change is part of the school’s greater focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. “When the American education system was created, information was scarce; therefore, the primary goal of the school was to transfer knowledge (information) from teacher-to-student,” said Dr. Michael James, MLC Administrator. “Today information is
everywhere. Students don’t need information, they need the critical thinking skills necessary to quickly sift through all the information available to them and determine what is reliable and how they can use it to meet their needs. The shift to Singapore math is one step towards helping them gain those skills.”

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the importance of critical thinking skills. According to the article, “A survey by PayScale Inc., an online pay and benefits researcher, showed 50% of employers complain that college graduates they hire aren’t ready for the workplace. Their No. 1 complaint? Poor critical-reasoning skills.”

Sending a child to college will not necessarily prepare them for life in the workplace. The article continues, “’At most schools in this country, students basically spend four years in college, and they don’t necessarily become better thinkers and problem solvers,’ said Josipa Roksa, a University of Virginia sociology professor who co-wrote a book in 2011 about
the CLA+ test. ‘Employers are going to hire the best they can get, and if we don’t have that, then what is at stake in the long run is our ability to compete.’ International rankings show United States college graduates are in the middle of the pack when it comes to numeracy and literacy and near the bottom when it comes to problem solving.”

In addition to the new math curriculum, MLC is adding additional staff to support the goal of improving critical thinking skills. Emily Arevalo will join the school as a Math/Science teacher. Mrs. Arevalo has degrees in Applied Math and Chemistry from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Lisa Veurink will take over leadership of the school’s Extended
Learning Center (ELC). The ELC is designed to challenge students who excel in the standard curriculum and provide a safety net for those who struggle. Ms. Veurink has a Master’s degree in Reading as well as additional qualifications in special education and early childhood education. She has worked in the Windom school system for the past five years.

MLC is an inter-denominational school in Mountain Lake offering high quality, Christian education to students in Preschool through Grade 12. Its mission is to produce graduates who love God and are prepared mentally, physically and spiritually to influence the world.

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