Ditch discovery math
The province should bring back traditional methods for teaching math to elementary students.
The latest round of results from the Education Quality and Accountability Office show that only half of Grade 6 students in Ontario are meeting provincial standards in mathematics.
In Haliburton County, it’s less than half.
At local elementary schools, figures range from 47 per cent of Grade 6 students meeting the math standard, down to 17 per cent, depending on the school.
The Ministry of Education should do away with “discovery math,” a teaching methodology introduced more than a decade ago.
Since 2009, standardized testing has shown steady, decreased performance in mathematics among students at the Grade 6 level.
Seems beyond the realm of coincidence, no? Can anybody get me a probability on that? Probably not, I guess, huh?
Discovery math focuses on critical thinking about mathematical concepts. It puts concept before procedure.
The traditional math curriculum put procedure before concept. Those of us who grew up in the time before the internet learned the method first, then learned about its applications.
We did this through boring, monotonous repetition. Math drills. You remember them. Solving the same problem with different variables, over and over and over again, until the process was etched into your brain, as if by some horrible laser, and you awoke in a cold sweat from nightmares about multiplying fractions.
Repetition and memorization. Perhaps not the most fun, but, it would seem, perhaps the most effective.
In 2016, acknowledging the poor math scores, the province changed the curriculum to include a full hour of math instruction each day for elementary students. This amounts to doubling down on a flawed system. It’s not that students require more time on mathematics; they require being taught math in a way that is more effective.
Having a generation of students who do poorly in math could have serious and negative implications for the province in 20 or 30 years’ time.
Discovery mathematics has had its time to shine in Ontario, but it’s time for the province to bring back the traditional math curriculum.
Numbers don’t lie.