I have written a post on a blog regarding fact fluency and have received feedback that I am mistaken in that students in Singapore learn their basic facts to mastery...meaning with speed and automaticity. It was suggested to me that in fact, students in Singapore don't focus on facts and recalling them automatically is not an important focus of the program. True?
A teacher in the US
you are right that in singapore students are expected to learn their basic facts (1+1 to 9+9 and 1x1 to 9x9) to mastery.
true - that is not the focus of the program. the focus is problem solving and thinking - visualization, number sense and patterning. but that not not mean they are not expected to master basic facts.
the only thing teachers may want to note is that they have a fairly long time to do it.
students master addition facts in grade one, starting with number bonds and then they get lots of practice because they kept on using these in subsequent chapters.
for multiplication facts, they get a concrete and pictorial meaning making of multiplication before they are taught simpler basic facts such as multiplication of 2, 5 and 10 (and also 3).
plus, they get to learn how to figure out 3 x 6 from 2 x 6. also, 7 x 6 from 2 x 6 and 5 x 6 or 9 x 7 from 10 x 7. see any singapore textbooks - look for the dot diagrams (primary mathematics, my pals are here, shaping maths, math in focus, pensar sin limites - all have these dot diagrams)
all these are done over two years - grade two and three.
subsequently they get plenty of practice in larger number multiplication.
hope this helps