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How Math Is Taught Around The World. Key Differences

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As the universe's language, math is the bedrock of all things. A variety of strategies, teaching styles, and curriculums are used around the world to familiarize children with this language.

Although there are key differences in how math is taught around the world (which we shall see shortly), one thing remains constant; the use of tutors. Parents in almost all countries prefer to have a tutor like Tuenmen Tutor 屯 門 補習 社 to aid their children in easing their path to learning math.

Let Us Start With The US

The US is quite a prominent country globally, and analysis of this country might help us define our key differences.

Although the US is a prominent country, sadly its performance in Math is not as prominent as one might expect. A TIMSS analysis (Trends in Mathematical and Science studies) of 2011 shows that of the 4 countries (China, Singapore, Taipei, and the USA) the US has the least percentage of high performing students and a high percentage of low performing students in math. The trend continues as 2019 results of an international exam to students in 79 different countries placed American teenagers in the 31st position in math.

In general, American schools focus more strictly on teaching formulas and procedures rather than allowing students to creatively use mathematical principles to solve complex problems involving all sorts of mathematics. This is one of the reasons why Dutch students are so good at math. The curriculum for math in the Netherlands focuses on solving real-life problems that require integration and connection of various mathematical principles with one another, unlike the students having to calculate the weight of the cart when John buys 20 watermelons and 100 apples from Walmart.

Students in the states learn algebra 1 in 9th grade, geometry in 10th grade, and algebra 2 in 11th grade. This is in contrast to almost all the other countries that teach integrated math 1, 2, and 3 in the 3 grades in which algebra, geometry, data science, and statistics are taught together allowing the students to correlate the respective fields with one another more easily.

Lastly, the schools in the states are starting to incorporate data science and programming as essential components of mathematical studies. This probably comes from analyzing the curriculum of Estonia, the students of which rank first in European countries in Math, that teaches computer programming at all grade levels.


Unlike American students, Chinese students learn basic mathematical operations like multiplication as early as 2nd grade. And it only makes sense considering math is one of the core subjects of China’s national exams and students, schools, teachers, and parents prioritize it highly over other subjects.

In general, the Chinese math curriculum is a 9-year program with 4 major stages extending from primary schools 2nd grade to high school’s 9th grade with the average teaching period for math lasting up to 40-45 minutes and 30 minutes of homework every day for at least primary school students.

Secondary school pupils spend more than 15 hours per week only on math, both inside and out of class. Now you know why Chinese students are considered grandmasters of math globally.

Also, unlike many European countries where math is taught in Small groups, Chinese schools teach math in a whole-class instruction manner, engaging all the students in all the material for the day in one go. The classes also use Feynman’s technique of learning, where a student has to present his solutions to a particular problem in front of the entire class and defend his stances.


Since we talked about China, let’s do Japan as well.

The Japanese lessons are considered more difficult to learn compared to lessons in the US and most of the European economies. According to International standards, Japanese 8th-grade lessons are considered to be at 9th-grade difficulty level, while US 8th grade lessons are considered to be 7th-grade difficulty level. Also, about 62% of lessons include deductive reasoning. To put this in perspective, 0% of US math lessons require deductive reasoning.

Also, Japanese schools focus more on students’ creativity. 41% of the working time is spent on routine practice, while the rest of the time is spent on encouraging students to find new and different solutions to the same problem. In the US, however, 90% of the working time is spent on routine practices.

Finally, the lessons are focused tightly on a single mathematical concept, with the teacher’s job to create interrelations between that concept and other concepts.


The Finnish education system is recognized as one of the best in the world. Let’s see how they teach Math.

What sets the Finnish children apart from other children of the world is the quality of teachers they receive. In Finland, teacher education is something that is not taken lightly. High-level academic education for all the teachers is a must, and almost all the teachers of the country are involved in designing the National curriculum every time it is revised. In primary school teacher education, Mathematics has a high weightage among the multidisciplinary courses designed for the teachers’ readiness for primary school teaching. The weightage is increased even more in secondary school teacher education.

Also, it is the ordinary teachers who produce learning materials for the math, unlike many other countries where learning materials are provided by high ranked universities who haven’t any connection with primary or secondary school kids.

Students learn core mathematical principles by problem-based learning and all the students, irrespective of grade and age, are required to create models with their hands for enhancement of strong concepts.

During the first 2 years of primary school, math is taught for 6 lesson hours a week, while it is 15 lesson hours for grades 3 to 6, and 11 lesson hours per week for grades 7 to 9.

The complex integration of knowledge of advanced geometry, statistics, probability, and algebra is almost always encouraged in all Finnish schools.


While we know we couldn’t cover all the major economies of the world, we have tried to tie things up a bit in this article by representing the major countries’ education systems on math.

Chinese schools reflect the way almost all Asian schools teach math to their kids, while Finnish schools reflect the way almost all European schools teach math to their students.

We hope this article helped in understanding the diversity of teaching Math to kids around the world.