On the math curriculum changes

Manitoba Education has revised the K-8 math curriculum and posted a document outlining the revisions on the Manitoba Education website on Tuesday, June 11.

You can find the document at the following link: curriculum revisions.

Manitoba is the first WNCP province to walk back the language denigrating skills and to re-introduce standard methods of arithmetic explicitly into the curriculum.

We commend the Manitoba Ministry of Education and, in particular, Deputy Minister Gerald Farthing  for listening to the stakeholders and for recognizing that some of the extreme elements of the WNCP curriculum needed to be reversed. Manitoba Education made these changes quite quickly and we recognize that a lot of work went into this.

The main changes include the following:

1. All four standard algorithms have been put back in the curriculum (vertical addition with a carry, subtraction with a borrow, vertical multiplication and long division).

2. There is a specific requirement for times table memorization now.

3. Most of the language from the preamble, which describes the instructional philosophy, that disparaged practice or pencil-and-paper math has been removed. Language discussing the importance of practice, efficient computation and knowing math facts automatically was added.

4. Clarifications about the place of technology in the math classroom was added (ie. the use of technology can enhance but should not replace learning outcomes).

We welcome these changes to the WNCP curriculum as progress in the right direction. At the same time remain numerous curricular issues about which we have made recommendations, in which progress remains to be seen.

  • We suggested that many outcomes be placed in earlier grade levels. The placement of the outcomes in the revised document, as in the original WNCP curriculum document, puts us 2-3 years behind several high-performing jurisdictions. We think that children are capable of achieving much more than what is currently expected and this is a curriculum that severely underestimates the learning capabilities of children.
  • There remain other (some more subtle) improvements yet to be made. Though this document is less ideological in nature than the original, we still see passages that suggest teachers ought to conform to this or that “trendy” classroom method or pedagogy. It is our position that the Curriculum Framework ought to specify content alone and be agnostic concerning teaching methods.

This is a good first step but there is still a lot of work to be done.

We encourage motivated individuals from other WNCP provinces to organize around these changes.  Do you want to see a similar change in your province?  If you are willing to put in time and energy to organize a local effort, please contact us.

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