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Math is the “Red Flag” We Need to Wrestle With

January 24, 2014 by Tunya

If government can screw up Math so badly — a subject that should be relatively tamper proof — what else are they screwing up? Let’s not consider Social Studies or Reading or Science for now — Math is scary enough.

It’s been determined that curriculum responsibility rests with the applicable Ministry — NOT the teacher union, NOT the text book publishers, NOT the itinerant consultants pushing their agendas.  That is why the Petitions now circulating for improved Math are directed, appropriately, straight at the Minister of Education in charge.

Pushback is directed to where it might work, that is, if you still believe in government schools doing the education job.  We’re told that parents are leaving for independent schools or home education.

Even students are asking: “Why should I go to school if they don’t teach?”

One parent comment I read on this issue said her child is taught Math at home but is sent to school for “socialization.”  Well, dear parent, this may be your biggest mistake. I say that because that is what has happened — incrementally over time. THE MISSION of the public schools seems to have become “socialization”.  Socialization in all three meanings of the term:  1) to place under government control; 2) to make sociable; and 3) to convert to the needs of society.

Right now this is part of the BIG CONTROVERSY in America against the Common Core Curriculum that aims to put all students in public schools under the control of the central federal government. And this nervousness is starting to emerge in Canada because of the “transformations” being imposed under terms as “personalized learning” or 21st Century skills. 

This is about a BIG SHIFT — away from knowledge to competencies.

Knowledge and skills can be measured and Ministries are being convinced to move away from these accountability means.  As a replacement, they are buying into competencies such as problem solving and collaboration and creativity.  And that’s where “discovery” Math comes in.  Part of the Big Shift.

This is not proven good pedagogy.  But, it is a good umbrella for ideological agendas as social justice, social responsibility, global stewardship.  In our BC curriculum one of the Resources (“Making Space” pg24) says:

•                Ensure that diverse examples are included when conducting number operations and statistics activities (e.g., representing diverse cultures, family structures, socioeconomic levels, etc.)

• . . . students can look at numbers that reflect inequalities of income or resource distribution . . . to speculate about possible reasons for some of the disparities identified

NOTE: This is for MATH in Kindergarten to Grade 3, ages 6 – 9 !

Part of the Big Shift is that “over-arching themes” are to be embedded, across the curriculum, into all subjects.  Sustainability and global citizenship are two such themes.  Social justice and diversity are two more.

In Australia, for 6 years a New National Curriculum was being developed under the Labor government.  The New Curriculum became a contentious issue in the latest Federal election and the new conservative government has just announced a Review.  A Report is due in 6 months time and its task is to determine what parents and public want from their schools as well as nail down whether there was a left worldview shift stemming from curriculum changes.  These three overarching themes were to be embedded into all subjects — Aboriginal culture, sustainability and global citizenship. 

Now, my conclusion about a BC Math Petition. We were told before our Election in May 2013 that “regardless of who wins” the election, the new BC Ed Plan curriculum goes ahead, because “It’s international!”  Now, isn’t that so very different from Australia?  There the government runs public education.  Here in BC, and probably in Ontario*, there’s some international mandate at play (?)

Good Luck with a desired result to your petition.

[*Is it a coincidence that a day after Al Gore came to Toronto Nov 21, 2013, Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, announced: “We need to find space to focus on higher-order skills like creativity, collaboration, community and critical thinking . . .  Quite frankly, I know that many of you have been pushing for this for some time and fostering this learning in your own schools and boards.” ? Not saying that Gore is an outrider for the socialist Fabians but he has a connection.  The Deputy Gen Secretary of UK Fabians worked on Gore’s presidential campaign.  Fabian Motto — Educate, Agitate, Organize. ]

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