Did We Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater?


    Recently there have been a lot of conversations about the “New Math” that is being introduced into the classroom. Many parents and some education leaders have stated that the basics have been forgone in the math curriculum in favor of concepts that students may not be able to grasp because of a weak background in the skills of adding, subtracting, multiplication, or division.
    Much of the nineties and the early part of the 21st Century saw Alberta and Canada ranked among the top five in the world in Math. Today according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) we have dropped to thirteenth. What happen? 
    As much as one would like to blame Alberta’s new math program on the lower math standing from the results of the PISA test the fact is students taught on the previous math program took it.
    Curriculum is always evolving. We have experienced “New Math” since the 1960’s when we first started teaching. Each of these “New Math” programs placed an emphasis on what was considered the needs of the day. The latest math program is no different. Do you remember doing math and the teacher saying you didn’t show your work on how did you get that answer? Or how about the time you figured a shorter way to arrive at an answer and the teacher saying, “that’s not how we do it!”
    We now know that students learn in different ways and not all students in the classroom learn at the same rate. Research has shown students born earlier in the year generally do better than students born closer to the minimum entrance age.  We also know that if you can have students manipulate objects using math concepts they learn those concepts quicker.  The recent trend, in math, has been to spend more time on concept development than on “rote” memory of facts. 
    Too often this has been interpreted as reducing rote memory of math facts to the fringes of math inquiry instead of a key component in the development of a child’s understanding of math.  As a long time basketball coach it would be like reducing the time on a players ability to shoot a basketball and spending more time on team defense and wondering why your team kept losing because it couldn’t score enough points.
    All one has to do is to go to your local Walmart or Target store and give a young cashier an extra nickel or dime so you can get back a Lonnie instead of fist full of change and watch them stubble trying to figure out what to do even though the register will probably figure it out. How many times have they even counted out your change?
    We need to recognize that curriculums will need to change just about every five years. In the past we stayed with a set curriculum for, in some cases, decades, but today we will learn more new information in the next six months that what use to take five years. This is in all fields of knowledge and much of that new information affects what we consider facts today. If we are to graduate students that are well informed and knowledgeable the curriculum must adapt and change to allow our students to be able to compete with the rest of the world.
    The danger is when a new curriculum is introduced that there is a balance between understanding and skills. Just as my basketball player needs the skills to shoot a basketball he will not be effective until he understands the concept of team defense. To do one over the other is a disaster waiting to happen.
    The fear is that concepts will be taught over skills and students will end up with neither the understanding nor the skills in math needed to be successful in the world of today. Unfortunately there are too many math “experts” who believe students do not have to be fluent in calculating math, as they can always use a calculator.  That philosophy could result in us throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

More Stories:
  • Alberta Farm Days 2014 Discover Alberta’s culinary treasures during the second annual Alberta Open Farm Days, August 23 and 24. “From farm visits for the whole family, to one-of-a-kind culinary experience for foodies, Open Farm Days is a great ...
  • Odysseo By Cavalia – The ‘Fusion’ Show It’s almost impossible to describe the show Odysseo by Cavalia that is taking place in Edmonton, without personally experiencing this unique theatrical performance. It’s not a horse show, although 64 horses participate. It’s ...
  • Making Dreams Come True Imagine for a moment sitting in the front of a race car, feeling the heat of the engine and the roar of the horsepower as it carries you across the finish line in first place. The inner track is filled with other drivers ...
  • I-Robot Arrives In Leduc! On Thursday, July 17th, 2014 two robots arrived at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) on their way to K-Days. For an hour FURO-D and her younger more versatile sister, FURO-S, demonstrated their capabilities to the ...
  • Alberta Prairie Classroom On Wheels (C.O.W. Bus) When did you learn how to read? At the Centre for family Literacy, we believe that literacy development begins at birth. Our homes are our first schools and our families are our first teachers. When children see family members ...
  • Millet And Area Mourns The Passing Of A Giant Submitted by Brenda Jackson Communities are made up of wonderful people, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of one we called ours for many years - Laurence ‘Laurie’ Linaker. If I could describe Laurie in just a couple ...
  • $17,578 Grant Awarded To Warburg Ag Society On Monday, July 14, Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Energy and MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon, met with Warburg Agricultural Society President Les Nemeth and Ag Society member Treasa Nemeth at the constituency office. ...
  • Stage 7 Of Southfork Set To Go The next phase of development in Southfork will see the long-awaited second entrance put in. During the City of Leduc’s June 14 council meeting, manager of Current Planning and Development Carol Hampton said the second access ...
  • Bike Night Raising Funds For Great Causes Terry Evans of Edmonton Classic Rock Station K-97 hosts, “Bike Night” each Tuesday night at Blackjack’s Roadhouse in Nisku, Alberta. Each week Bike Night raises funds for a charitable cause through the Poker Run and Charity ...
  • Canada’s Amelia Earhart Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic and we all know about her ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Earhart inspired hundreds of women to become airplane pilots and instill in ...
  • Heimdal Walk For Global Care Heimdal Community Church, located east and a little south of Leduc, held its 39th Walk-A-Thon for Global Care with 77 walkers participating. All of the $70,000 raised by the walkers, plus any additional donations so dedicated, ...
  • RCMP Musical Ride Coming To Leduc The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will bring the Musical Ride to Amberlea Meadows on July 25th and 26th for Leduc and area residents. This will be the Ride’s second visit to Amberlea Meadows, as they demonstrated their ...
  • New Fibre Optic Cables Set To Increase Internet Speed Throughout Wetaskiwin Beginning this summer, TELUS will be connecting more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Wetaskiwin directly to fibre optic cables. This build – which comes at no cost to the municipality or its residents – will bring ...
  • Ma-Me-O Beach Legion Branch Funds Local Reading Program Submitted by Patrick Miller Every summer the Lakedale and Area Community Library Society is involved in a reading program for the children at the Pigeon Lake Public Library in Ma-Me-O Beach Alberta. Royal Canadian Legion ...
  • Jazzy Week In Wetaskiwin Music was the focus for 12 youth (day session) and 8 adults (evening session for 16+) every day from July 6th to 11th at the Grace Lutheran Church in Wetaskiwin. The Church was the venue for the 6th annual Wetaskiwin Jazz ...




 
  • Leduc Radio Ad
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia