The Fascination of Numbers Mathletes at SIS Swiss International School

Most people would agree that, ideally, learning should be both performance-oriented and fun. The European Championship in Mental Calculation at SIS Zürich-Wollishofen shows that it can be.

The Skills of Tomorrow

As parents, whether we are raising our children in our native country or abroad, we have one major concern: we want to prepare our daughters and sons for their future in the best possible way. Of course, no one can tell exactly what the future will hold, but there are some basic skills and key competences that are sure to prove beneficial to the future professionals of our globalised world.

In addition to competence in various languages, strong mathematical-analytical skills are increasingly sought after in our innovative and digitally-oriented society. Due to its bilingual educational concept, teaching in English and German at SIS Swiss International School naturally focuses on students' language skills. However, equal emphasis is placed on developing the children's ability to think and work scientifically and to deal with problems in an analytical, yet creative way. These qualities are also at the centre of the European Championship in Mental Calculation, which will take place on the 4th of May 2016 at SIS Zürich-Wollishofen.

Students at class

Logical Creativity

Organised by the Parents' Association for Gifted Children (EHK) in Switzerland and the elevenfold world champion in mental calculation, Dr. Dr. Gert Mittring, the European Championship in Mental Calculation for children and adolescents from 8-17 years gives gifted children from all across Europe the opportunity to compete with each other and meet like-minded friends. It also provides them with a platform to exchange their views and strategies regarding complex mathematical problems. 

Dr. Dr. Mittring and student

According to Dr. Dr. Mittring, the championship not only combines fun and mathematical skills, but it is also an appeal to the students' independent thinking skills: "We would like to encourage the participants to not just consume what they are presented with, but instead to approach and solve potential problems in an independent and creative way." During the week preceding the European Championship, Gert Mittring will introduce the participants in different workshops to some of his own techniques and methods and give them an understanding of the playfulness of mathematical operations and the joy there is in discovering the logic and system behind them.

Motivation is Key

Playfulness and joy – according to Gert Mittring, these two words are not used enough in combination with learning, let alone mathematics, in today's competitive education market. However, the importance of intrinsic motivation and arousing the child's interest in the subject matter cannot be underestimated: "Learning processes will only be successful if a child is motivated and interested in understanding the reasons behind them." 

Students at SIS

At SIS, the carefully developed bilingual curricula make sure that both national and international educational standards are met and quality teaching is guaranteed. As for the fun and play in learning, SIS teachers are from diverse teaching and learning cultures, and they are therefore able to show children a variety of interesting and creative ways to address different kinds of problems.

While SIS is not a school for especially gifted children, the bilingual programme is demanding and aims at preparing the students for the challenges of a globalised world; the fact that SIS students regularly achieve better results than the control groups in international benchmarking tests shows that the method is successful. In this context, the European Championship in Mental Calculation combines a lot of the things SIS is trying to encourage on a daily basis: skills, performance, creative exchange and, above all, the joy of learning.

Author: Andrea Furgler

Andrea Furgler is the CEO of Swiss International Schools Schweiz AG. SIS operates 16 bilingual, private day schools in Switzerland, Germany and Brazil with more than 3,500 students attending classes from kindergarten through to college.

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