It is time to harness the potency of the lightning bolt that has struck the Mathematics program in Ontario! One thing is certain – it can’t be done through the stormy eyes of the current reviews of the mainstream media.
“Get back to the ‘basics’ and cease this obsession with discovery math!”
Consider the Jump Math program developed by John Mighton that has received glowing worldwide reviews and accolades. The discovery method is utilized throughout the program and the principles of ‘scaffolding’ as Mighton terms it – a slow paced breakdown exploiting various methods to ensure a proficiency in basic concepts and skills that ultimately leads to the mastery of more complex mathematical notions.
This is all founded on an increasing sense of confidence in the student that they can in fact be genuinely successful in their Math endeavours. These are the basics to which we should return and leave behind the “drill and kill” so often associated with the notion of “basics.”
So, how do we get there?
Unpack the current provincial curriculum and reduce the content whilst placing the emphasis on mastery. The overly-crammed curriculum coerces teachers to prematurely forge ahead to the next topic which culminates in teaching the content – not the child!
Reduce the extravagant sums of money allocated to EQAO and redistribute the savings to actually reduce class size. Classrooms are overcrowded and underfunded. By all means designate a lead teacher for mathematics in every school – but without classroom responsibilities in order to truly develop a sense of responsibility for program implementation and peer development.
Investment in the continued honing of the assessment instruments has failed. Accountability is important but not at the expense of our children’s development. Establish funding for the non-human resources teachers require to meet the individual and group needs of student’s evolving desire to ‘do math’ – $60 million would be constructive start!
Given reduced class sizes, an unpacked simplified math curriculum, effective ongoing in school professional development and the requisite non-human resources program, I’m sure that teachers would be able to create confident and self assured mathematicians able to conquer any standard test regardless of its origin. Teaching to a test would cease and the development of our children’s math proficiencies would be launched!