Monday, January 11, 2016

Curriculum Controversy - Discovery Math Isn't Adding Up

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University.

In 2013 Manitoba Education Minister Nancy Allen announced the implementation of a revised math curriculum that focused on, "... developing math skills, procedural thinking, conceptual understanding and problem solving to ensure students are getting a solid foundation" (Manitoba Education Press Release, 2013). The curriculum shifted from an inquiry-based approach, often touted in the media as "discovery math", to an algorithm approach that focuses on deep-level numerical understanding. Levin (2008, p. 11) stated that, "5% of clients complaining can lead to political disaster". In Manitoba the inclusion of discovery math lead the government to see public ridicule from university professors, the creation of WISE Math (the Western Initiative for Strengthening Math Education), complaints from multiple stakeholders, and a formal petition from parents; political disaster by Levin's definition. Manitoba is still under pressure regarding math education after recent PCAP test results ranked Manitoba at the lowest in the country; it will be interesting to see if and how the curricular changes will address the concerns expressed by provincial and federal stakeholders.

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in  
schools. In M. Connelly, F.M. He, & J. Phillion (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of
curriculum and instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.

McDonald, M. (2013, September 3). Frustrated parents convince schools to step back from new math. National Post. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/frustrated-professors-convince-schools-to-step-back-from-new-math-and-go-back-to-basics

Manitoba Education. (2013, June 18). Manitoba streghtens quality of math education with revisions to kindergarten to grade 8 curriculum. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=17770

Stoke, A. (2014, October 8). No surprise in Manitoba students' poor math showings. CBC News. Retrieved on January 5, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/no-surprise-in-manitoba-students-poor-math-showings-1.2792542 

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