I am currently living in Vietnam. In my opinion, the Vietnamese education system focuses too much on doing homework (sometimes exercises are very difficult), and it doesn't focus on helping children to understand the essence of concepts. Vietnamese high-school teachers often spend very little time on explaining the essence of concepts, and spend much time on doing exercises.

Which education systems in the world focus on helping children to think about the essence of concepts, rather than on just doing a lot of homework? For example, British, American, Finnish or Japanese education system?

  • Maybe this would be better suited so something like the mathematics educators Stack Exchange. – nick012000 Mar 7 at 22:00
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    @nick012000 The OP is asking about teaching the essence of the concepts in general, using physics and math as examples. So mathematics educators Stack Exchange is not the best fit for the question as is. Parenting.SE is the best fit, I think. See also: parenting.stackexchange.com/q/37804 , parenting.stackexchange.com/q/37735 , parenting.stackexchange.com/q/37574 – Timur Shtatland Mar 9 at 14:24
  • This is a common problem in many education systems. See this piece by Richard Feynman on the Brazilian university system: v.cx/2010/04/feynman-brazil-education – Paul Johnson Mar 9 at 14:47
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    The way this question reads right now, I don't think this is necessarily a good fit for this site. I won't close it for the moment, but it seems like a combination of a rant and a question about educational systems that isn't really answerable as a parenting question. Are you trying to find a good place to educate your child? If it can be narrowed down then it might be a good fit here, but we're not really a good site for more of a "statement", which the above seems to be - while the title asks a question, that question doesn't appear anywhere in the body of the question. – Joe Mar 9 at 16:03
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    @Joe, I am looking for a school that meets my requirements – Tom Mar 10 at 8:11

I am not aware of any state-sponsored teaching systems that "focus on understanding the essence of concepts". Among the widely known systems, Montessori methodology is pretty close to what you are asking about. That is, at least for math up to the elementary school levels - I have not followed it for later years. There are numerous articles online on the Montessori method, and Montessori math in particular. For example:

Montessori Basics: How Math Progresses Through the Levels — Hollis Montessori School: https://hollismontessori.org/blog/2018/3/19/montessori-basics-how-math-progresses-through-the-levels

Much of the Montessori curriculum is based on giving children exposure to concrete materials first, then giving them incremental opportunities to work to more abstract concepts.  This is no different when it comes to math.

What do we mean by concrete?  The children are able to hold a material in their hands.  The materials are symbolic or representative of something else (a number, perhaps), and that symbolism changes over time until children are ready to let go of the materials and find solutions on paper or even in their heads.

There are also individual teachers who use their own methods.

For elementary school math, there is Jane Kats, a well-known teacher and author of the popular Mousematics series of books. Jane Kats uses play-based methods and sensory materials extensively. Unlike the Montessori methodology, where there is more structure, order and only a limited set of (often expensive) specific activities/materials per concept, Jane Kats uses many activities/materials per concept. These include tons of games, such as board games, fun problems, and sensory materials that are either inexpensive to buy, or can be put together by any parent out of paper, tape, ice cream sticks, thread, and the like.

For high school physics, including Newton's laws and much else, I can only recommend from personal experience a simplified (but not too simplified!) approach based on college-level physics, with elements of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The main feature of this approach is derivation of many of the laws of physics from a handful of fundamental concepts. This makes physics easier to grasp and remember, and also much more elegant. Needless to say, it requires a bit of math knowledge. This approach is based on the individual teacher methodology, and not widely used, AFAIK.


Montessori Math Lesson - Number Rods - YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCHh1XP3pR0

Montessori Mathematics - YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKSRCeyR5Ck

Math should be felt with your hands: Interview with Jane Kats | Musings of a Mathematical Mom: https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/math-should-be-felt-with-your-hands-interview-with-jane-kats/

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  • I think there's some good information in here, but I don't think it answers the question in the OP - largely as there's not really a question there. This might be an answer to the question OP should be, though. – Joe Mar 9 at 16:05

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