Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
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Following the numbers
Re: Basic arithmetic back in class (June 18). Finally the math experiment is over. Why anyone thought the WNCP (Western and Northern Curriculum Protocol) was a good idea is mind-boggling.
Kudos to Anna Stokke and Robert Craigen for being critical of the experiment and to Nancy Allan for being one of the few politicians to have the intestinal fortitude to correct the deficiency in the system.
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Bringing the requirement for educators to have a proper background in mathematics in order to teach the subject? Genius!
IRA VAN DEN BERG
Congratulations to Manitoba's department of education for bucking the trend and doing the obvious.
As a former teacher of mathematics, I wonder how many times we have to rediscover the wheel. That the ability to do basic arithmetic in one's head (or on paper -- without calculator) is important is obvious to everyone except administrators who want to be trailblazers, academics who want to justify their existence and those who blindly accept ideas because they were introduced elsewhere.
Rather than commending the provincial education department for returning to a more realistic math curriculum, it should be lambasted for failing to properly assess the previous new math practices in the first place. These failures occur not merely in math; they extend to any innovation, philosophy or methodology that gets considered for adoption.
We're currently seeing a similar phenomenon in some divisions where iPads are being made mandatory, even though several studies have revealed electronic devices in the classroom, despite huge costs, have had barely perceptible effects on student performance.
The North American education establishment has never been renowned for rigorously testing its theories. Instead, it relies on testimonials of people, usually education faculty members, who stand to make a fast buck by peddling unproven gimmicks to the school system.
Math professor Anna Stokke believes Manitoba students are capable of achieving much more than the current math curriculum asks of them. Really? They're not working to potential?
How about their fitness levels? Musical skills? Technology? Reading comprehension? Their writing? Are they sufficiently generous, compassionate, mindful of our deteriorating environment? Do they understand their place in society? In the universe?
Should "much more... be expected of students" in all disciplines at every grade level, as Stokke believes is the case for math?
We're going to need a lot more time.
I was working in my garden recently when a youth who was probably 11 or so asked me what time it was. I told him it was 10 to 10. He gave me blank stare and said, "What time is that?" I told him that, in his case, it would be 9:50.
Later, I was paying my bill in a store. The cash register said that I was to receive $4.30 in change. I pleaded with the young cashier (she would have been 17 or so) to let me give her 70 cents and take a $5 bill. She gave me a stern look, which obviously implied "what kind of scam are you trying to pull?" and flatly refused.
I am hoping that the new program will be retroactive with regard to basic arithmetic.
My son will start Kindergarten this fall; this news is a huge relief.
What a wonderful surprise to see government reverse a policy. Now if we could see fresh thinking applied to Bipole III.
KAREN ANNA DANDEWICH
Colon placement illogical
Thank goodness that I was better educated than modern headline writers. Gordon Sinclair was not victimized in the Altona murder. The opposite is suggested by the illogical practice of placing a colon at the end of your June 18 Page 1 sub-headline Murderer's possible parole haunts Altona... but not the man he victimized: Gordon Sinclair Jr.
Sinclair is alive and well. May we enjoy his writings for many more years -- regardless of modern punctuation fads.
Pacifying the outrage
Re: UFC army conquers Winnipeg in one day (June 17). When all-out fighting with intent to hurt, harm and maim emerges on the entertainment scene, the local population reacts to potential blood and grime in the octagon with understandable horror.
However, analogous to profanities of the day which become accepted everyday speech by tomorrow, the initial outrage of violence becomes acceptable, once "properly" commercialized.
The UFC program, staged in the MTS Centre on June 15, was telecast around the world. Big money has a way of pacifying outrage.
The fighting action inside the cage was no great hell, as the vernacular of the day has it. An average church scrimmage in Steinbach provides every bit as much of excitement at roughly the same price.
Get Grant ball rolling
Re: Standing up for a statue to honour Bud Grant, June 14. As a fan who had the privilege of watching the Bombers during those glory years, let's get the ball rolling on a Bud Grant statue.
There will never be an era like it again.
WILLIAM D. POOLES
How about public stoning?
Ron Robinson's letter High on punning (June 18) was great, but if only he had been able to come up with the requisite number of word plays, he could have sent Jonathan Hefney off with a 21-pun salute.
That being said, I'd better blow this joint before somebody decides I deserve a bong upside the head.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 A14
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