As a parent of two children in the school system, I listened with great interest yesterday to Education Minister Joan Burke's plan to improve the provincial math curriculum. The province is going to spend $11 million in a pointless attempt to fix the curriculum, rather than scrap it altogether. This is a major mistake, and I can say this based on personal experience with my own children, and from talking to teachers and parents at school. The program puts too much emphasis on problem solving while giving short shrift to learning basic fundamentals.
Education Minister Joan Burke (above, CBC photo) admits there are problems and flaws with the curriculum, but says it can be fixed by hiring 25 specialists to help teachers better understand it.
In this CBC story, university professor Sherry Mantyka - who has closely studied math performance - said the government is making the wrong decision.
"This curriculum, in its design, is fundamentally flawed," she told CBC News. "There's no amount of teacher professional development that's going to correct that."
As one who has pulled his hair out, trying to help his child figure out complex problems before that child has even learned his mathematical tables (as one example), I agree wholeheartedly with Mantyka. Even teachers have quietly confided, over the last several years, that the curriculum is fatally flawed.
Burke, of course, has a phalanx of education experts advising her that the parents are wrong, the teachers aren't properly trained and the solution is to dig the hole deeper. It makes you wonder who is actually running the department...