Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Province's new approach to teaching math long overdue: readers

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Great job, Nancy, but why did you take so long?

And while you’re at it getting back to math basics, the online world told Education Minister Nancy Allan Tuesday, let’s also go back to the future with a renewed emphasis on spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Education Minister Nancy Allan also announced Tuesday the province will:

— design online curriculum supports for parents to help them support their child’s learning;

— update high school math courses to ensure students have the necessary math skills for post-secondary education and good jobs;

— improve teacher training in mathematics in partnership with the faculties of education, and;

— establish a Mathematics Education Advisory Committee to provide a forum where educators can share ideas on how to improve the quality of math education and learning in Manitoba.

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As the Winnipeg Free Press reported Tuesday morning, the province has revised the kindergarten to Grade 8 math curriculum for September, requiring kids be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide, both on paper and in their heads, and be able to memorize multiplication tables before using a calculator in math class.

Subscribers to the Free Press who commented on our website Tuesday were almost all enthusiastic about the change, though some said it was long overdue and a few questioned why the province had allowed basic arithmetic to be so discounted as an essential skill.

Allan made an official announcement Tuesday, saying that, "By working with our education partners to strengthen the math curriculum and increase supports for students, teachers and parents, students will get the math education they need to succeed.

"We use math every day and by providing a strong math education to our students, we will lay a strong foundation for their future and the future of Manitoba."

Allan said she listened to parents, educators and math experts who raised concerns children were not getting the basic skills they need to do arithmetic and solve problems. "The new, revised curriculum strikes the right balance between developing math skills, procedural thinking, conceptual understanding and problem solving to ensure students are getting a solid foundation in math," she said.

Allan said the newly revised curriculum will be implemented in schools provincewide starting in September. During the summer, the province will offer professional-development opportunities for educators on the newly revised kindergarten to Grade 8 curriculum and ways to make math more engaging for high school students.

Here’s what some of our readers had to say:

winnipegman1: "What took the morons in our school systems so long to notice that their graduates can’t spell, write, or do simple math."

Woofers: "I had to do this and I can still do it today. The really sad thing is some people are honestly amazed by it."

Tyne59: "Calculators were not allowed when I went to school. Now the kids get in trouble for NOT having one. If they weren’t being taught the basic math skills, exactly what have they been learning all these years? How to get answers from a computer."

LuckyBucky: "My 13-year-old nephew is an A student. I asked him what 7 times 8 equals and all I got was a blank stare. He got out his iphone to get the answer."

Time Lord: "The average teenager at a sales counter couldn’t calculate change from a $20 bill if their jobs depended on it. I have the correct change calculated before the kid inputs the numbers. A useful, basic skill learned from elementary school that must be brought back."

Gack: "Some egghead decided that kids would not learn long division, addition, multiplication, and subtraction the way we all learned it. They experimented with kids, and failed. Most of the kids my daughter goes to school with are lousy at basic math."

my 2 cents worth: "They should also teach kids how to tell time on a analog watch or clock. if it’s not digital they can’t tell the time."

emcee51: "I wish parents would start making demands that spelling and grammar (written and oral) be taught properly. It wod be real nic lik if lik yung peepul cud tawk with out using the word "like" evry few words or watever ya no? Sentence structure and paragraphing would be kind of nice too."

beekpr1: "Once they get the math fixed up they can work on writing and grammar, teaching the Queen’s English again."

sunny2: "I just hope it’s not too late for those just entering junior high and high school to catch up and learn the basics that they should have been taught in elementary."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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