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Math results signal alarm re “discovery/inquiry” methods

February 9, 2014 by Tunya

British Columbia, along with many other parts of the Western World, is undergoing “transformation” of its government education system.  While the New National Curriculum in Australia and the Common Core in the US are subject to considerable scrutiny and dispute, the BC “personalized education BC ED Plan” has so far bypassed any serious critique.  It’s only since the PISA Math scores revealed Canada’s slip that parents and some academics in Math have started to raise an alarm.  The Globe&Mail has been featuring this concern in BC and in other provinces.  Below is a comment I made to G&M story  — BC’s Education Reforms Are Running Into Resistance

Despite a math petition now circulating in BC, Minister Fassbender said that a “transformation” to “personalized learning” would still go ahead.

Before the provincial election (May 14) we were told by a Ministry official that — regardless of which party wins — the BC Ed Plan would continue to go ahead: “Because it’s international!”

Now tell me: Where did this mandate come from? What if the Green Party won, or the NDP? What if a sizeable numbers of parents, teachers and citizens had misgivings?

Well, this tightly wound up project is no toy. It’s ready to roll. A 426 page Transition Binder lays it all out. And, hold on to your hats, we are told the teacher union — Yes, the most militant, ideologically left, teacher union in Canada — is front and center in the design and development of the curriculum.

Sure, there is an obligatory “consultation” for feedback, but it’s all bogus. Only insiders know about the website where moderators answer individual questions with pat answers.

Report cards are a big issue in BC. During the last teacher strike they were withheld for a whole year and parents had to email or otherwise communicate with teachers to get some sense of where their kids were at. I think this was a test-run about how far the system can go in squeezing parents out of the picture.

Right now two school districts are dropping letter grades in favor of some new “communication” styles. A good number of parents are starting to complain and parents who feel undermined in their role to monitor their child’s progress have inundated one local radio station. These parent voices are being heard but not listened to.

In one government paper about the overall Plan I saw that parent resistance might be expected, and in another section I saw mention of “edcamps for parents”. Does that sound like the Chinese Cultural Revolution where dissenters were sent out to the fields for re-education?

And, let’s get back to the “international” question. Yes, there are international moves by agencies, including UNESC0 and Millennial Development goals where the young are expected to become “global citizens”. Instead of focusing on skills, content and knowledge they are to adopt the 4 c’s — collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. The Common Core discussions in the US and 21st C Learning Skills in Canada are part of the “international” machinations going on.

So, if you want some flavor of how “discovery” or New Age math will be like, please watch this short 4 minute video of an Arkansas parent opposing the Common Core and demonstrating how a simple “rigorous” math question is turned into a 108 step “discovery”, exploration and problem-solving personal experience !

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