“This new math is stealing their confidence and their dreams”

Dec 28, 2013 by

finger_countingDavid Staples –

Alberta teachers, tutors and professors are standing up against the fuzzy math curriculum adopted by the Alberta government.

A number of professors and teachers are signing a petition calling for a return to the conventional teaching  of arithmetic, with a focus on students learning, practicing and mastering the basics of math in elementary school.

Here’s Dawn Arnold, a high school math teacher in Tofield. “I am seeing the results of the “discovery” method coming into my senior high math classes and it is very disturbing.”

And John O’Connor, a math instructor in Edmonton: “I have been teaching University level Mathematics for many years and have seen first-hand the harm that has been caused by the high-school Math curriculum. Students have been cheated by not having been taught the basic fundamental skills that are essential to an understanding of the subject. Memorizing multiplication tables and mastering long division are as fundamental to Math as learning the alphabet is to reading and writing.”

This public outcry is no surprise to me.  Due to my position as a newspaper columnist, many teachers have  contacted me in private in recent years, many of them with grave concerns about the educational system, from grade inflation to the No Zeros policy, from the new math program to Alberta Education’s current obsession with “discovery learning.”

These teachers fear speaking out in public, though, lest they get fired. That’s what happened to Lynden Dorval, who got fired when he insisted on giving the grade of zero to students who insisted they weren’t going to do a particular test or assignment.

The good news is that many educators will stand up in public when the stakes get high enough, and that’s what is now happening with our math curriculum.

It’s no longer mandatory for our K-6 grade students in Alberta to be taught the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Instead, they’re being taught “new math” or “fuzzy math.”

Here is a website devoted to the issue.

Here is an Edmonton Journal article on the issue, with a explanation from Alberta Education on why new math was introduced here.

In this new system, our children, the new masters of their own learning, are asked to somehow discover the ways of arithmetic by trying to figure out wordy math problems. Today’s math isn’t about numbers, it’s about words and theories, as if the curriculum was written by folks who hate the clear logic of pure mathematics.

It is little wonder that Edmonton parents are flocking to private learning programs like Kumon, or to special public school programs like Cogito, where the slow but satisfying mastery of arithmetic is the focus.

Where does that leave parents who can’t afford Kumon, or others who can’t get their kids into a popular program like Cogito? It leaves them stuck on the second rung of a two-tier educational system.

If you don’t want to  believe me on any of this, here is what a number of educators have written on the on-line petition started up by Calmar parent Nhung Tran-Davies, which already has 700 signatures.

via “This new math is stealing their confidence and their dreams” — educators speaks out against new fuzzy math curriculum | Edmonton Journal.

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