Too many teachers can’t do math, let alone teach it

Amazed  at the number  of  comments this story generated.


MARGARET WENTE | Columnist profile | E-mail

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail
Last updated

Is your kid struggling with math? Is she flustered by fractions and laid low by long division? Here’s a secret: Her teacher may be struggling, too.

An alarming number of elementary-school teachers are so uncomfortable with math, they can’t teach it properly. This means that more and more students are arriving at university without having grasped the basics. Continue reading

Something is Wrong With the State of Math Education in Canada

September 21, 2011

In Brief:

  • A solid understanding of mathematics is an important component of a well-rounded education. Unfortunately, schools are largely failing in this regard.
  • The math curriculum and textbooks in schools employ highly ineffective, discovery-based instructional techniques. Students do not learn standard algorithms for math equations, and they fail to master basic math skills.
  • John Mighton, founder of JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), found students needed to have math problems broken down into small steps and each step had to be mastered before moving to the next step.
  • In order to improve our system of math instruction, schools must place a stronger emphasis on mastering basic math skills and standard algorithms.

Media Release – Something is Wrong With the State of Math Education in Canada

Frontier Centre study defends traditional math education

Winnipeg, MB: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is proud to release a groundbreaking study authored by Frontier’s education research fellow Michael Zwaagstra. The study, entitled Math Instruction that Makes Sense, demonstrates conclusively that traditional math education methods are superior to the highly ineffective, discovery-based instructional techniques that are in vogue now in educational curricula. Zwaagstra shows why these techniques do not allow students to master basic math skills.

Zwaagstra draws on a wealth of relevant studies to argue that, “ in order for students to receive a strong grounding in math, they need to spend more time practicing math skills such as basic addition and subtraction along with the standard multiplication tables.” “There is ample research evidence showing that deliberate practice is the best way to gain mastery over a particular subject or skill,” said study author Michael Zwaagstra. Continue reading

Math is tougher than reading, study finds

Math is tougher than reading after all, a new study has determined

By Joannie Laucicus

Why is it that for some children reading is a snap, but math is daunting?

About six years ago, Jo-Anne LeFevre, director of the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, and her colleagues studied elementary students in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Peterborough.

One of the things they learned was that children need a more complex set of skills to master math than reading. These skills include the ability to process language, identify quantities and pay attention to the task. Children with attention deficit disorder, for example, often have difficulty with math. “It’s more complicated than reading,” says LeFevre. Continue reading

Summer school is hot

By Moira MacDonald ,Toronto Sun

First posted: Saturday, July 9, 2011 4:04:57 EDT PM

Jonathan Penacho could be doing what lots of 13-year-olds do in the first week of summer holidays — hanging out at home.

Instead, he’s working on his reading and writing at an optional three-week, non-credit summer school held for Grade 7 and 8 Toronto Catholic board students at Loretto College in west-end Toronto. Continue reading

Big drop in math skills of entering students

September 13, 2010

Big drop in math skills of entering students

On that point there’s no argument, but educators don’t agree about how much it matters.

by Anne Kershaw

Deteriorating math skills among high school graduates is not just a North American phenomenon, experts say.

The math skills of students entering Canadian universities have declined sharply in recent years, with many students unable to do basic arithmetic. Whether this is a learning crisis with dire implications for Canada’s citizenry and its future science and engineering base or simply an inevitable result of the ubiquity of calculators and computers is a matter of debate. Continue reading

Canadian students slip in global ranking of math, science, reading skills

Canadian students continue to slip in international rankings of math, science and reading skills, but the country can boast of an education system that lessens differences of social class and gaps between immigrant and native-born students.

Canada sat 10th among 70 countries in math skills in 2009, down from seventh place three years earlier, according to the largest international survey of its kind. The country ranked eighth in science scores, down from third in 2006, and sixth in reading skills, sliding from fourth place three years earlier.

“The 2009 performance of Canada is a little bit disappointing,” says Bernard Hugonnier, deputy-director of education with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “At the same time, you are still much above the OECD average.” Continue reading

Ontario college students failing math: study

A new study shows a third of first-year college students in Ontario are in danger of not graduating because they flunked or barely scraped through their math course.

Researchers at Seneca College who conducted the study say that equates to about 10,000 students.

About 67 per cent of students achieved good grades — As, Bs, and Cs — slightly better than last year.

The governing Liberals are focusing on post-secondary education as a way to pull Ontario out of a major economic recession.

Monday’s throne speech promised to increase the portion of the province’s population that has a university or colleges education to 70 per cent from 62 per cent. Continue reading

Internet teens failing math

Internet teens failing math

Deanna Jarvis, 18, with help from father Sam, works on math problems the University of Guelph sent this summer to thousands of first-year students.

Multi-tasking lifestyles, abolition of Grade 13, leaves ‘i-generation’ ill-prepared for rigours of university

September 06, 2009

Louise Brown

Education Reporter

Check out the comments on this article.

“I saw this coming ten years ago…

I’ve been tutoring high school mathematics for over fifteen years privately and I had never seen more blank and confused faces until after the curriculum change. The new text books are garbage with more colour than necessary, enough to distract any ADD-susceptible teen, fewer problems to practice on and almost zero progression from easy to difficult problems. My business has sky rocketed. The text book companies are so entrenched in knowing what is “right” or “better” and being run by people who can’t do the problems in their own books doesn’t help anyone see what is really going on.”

So many Ontario teens are bombing university math now that there is no Grade 13, universities are scrambling to boost students’ skills before they arrive. Continue reading

You will improve “AutoMagically”


Yes, this is a word with a long history. As the word suggests, “automagically” is (according to Wikipedia) a blend of the automatic and the magical. notes that:

“This term is quite old, going back at least to the mid-70s in jargon and probably much earlier. The word `automagic’ occurred in advertising (for a shirt-ironing gadget) as far back as the late 1940s.”

Take charge of your life!  Let the Magic  do its work!    Improve your basic math skills!