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Presenting the Two Basics
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Presenting the Two Basics

In this video Professor Fan explains what the Chinese concept of the Two Basics' entails.
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Due to historical and cultural reasons, Eastern Asian countries including Japan Korea Singapore and China (mainland China or Taiwan or Hong Kong or Macau) all emphasize the importance of foundations in students learning of mathematics. In mainland China, the principle of basic knowledge and basic skills or simply we call that Two Basics was explicitly put forward in the mathematics curriculum since the early 1960s, and it is the most widely observed principle in Chinese mathematics classroom. According to researchers, the two basic principles is a broad and loose idea without a strict definition. Its general meaning is that in the two aspects of solid foundation and application and creativity.
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Although both are important, more important is the knowing well of basic knowledge and grasp of basic skills. The two basics principle is reflected in the following goals of mathematical education in Chinese mathematics classroom. First, fast and accurate calculation with four arithmetic operations, involving integers decimals and fractions and so on and memorization of the algorithm. Primary school students can correctly finish 10 questions per minute for addition and subtraction involving numbers up to 100. Second, fast and accurate manipulation on polynomial expressions, algebraic fractions, exponential and radical expressions and memorization of the rules. Third, accurate memorization of definitions and formulas.
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The formula for finding the roots of quadratic equations, and definitions and properties of curves of the second order trigonometric formulas, and the formulas for changing the base in algorithms so and so forth. That’s mainly in secondary. Fourth, logical and formal expressions of mathematical concepts noting the logical accuracy of categorization in mathematics propositions. Fifths, the reasoning in solution process should confirm to rigorous logical rules with sufficient reason and being expressed in a clear and formal manner. Sixth, familiarity with solution patterns, memorizing certain basic solution patterns and use them on similar problems through fast imitating and transferring. Speed or efficiency play a key role in problem solving of Chinese students.
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So those six goals above the bottom line for mathematics teaching in Chinese mathematics classroom. All teachers must remind themselves all the time that the students are required to meet those targets. Of course it’s in Chinese classroom and teachers must first meets those targets themselves. In primary school mathematics classroom, Two Basics are more of the following aspects. First, fast and accurate calculation with the four arithmetic operations, addition subtraction, multiplication and division involving integers decimals and fractions etc. Second, accurate memorization of definitions and formulas, for example for finding the area of a triangle. And the third, familiarity with solution methods and patterns.

This video explains what the Two Basics are, and demonstrates it with some concrete examples.

Due to historical and cultural reasons, eastern Asian jurisdictions, including Japan, Korea, Singapore, and China (Mainland China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR) emphasise the importance of foundations in students’ learning of mathematics. In mainland China, the principle of basic knowledge and basic skills (or the Two Basics), has been explicitly put forward in the mathematics curriculum since the early 1960s, and is the most widely observed in Chinese mathematics classrooms.

According to researchers (Zhang, Li, & Tang, 2004), the Two Basics principle is a broad and loose idea without a strict definition. Its general meaning is that although the two aspects of ‘solid foundation’ and ‘application and creativity’ are both important, secure basic knowledge and a grasp of basic skills are more important. The Two Basics principle is reflected in six goals of mathematics education in Chinese mathematics classrooms.

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World Class Maths: Asian Teaching Methods

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