Ontario highschool curricula

Good day, MPP Rob and all.

Last night’s “Agenda” (TVO)  had an important half-hour on the subject of the Ontario school curricula.
This subject is heating-up toward the temperature it deserves, which is red-hot.
If you missed it, I hope you will be helped by my summary of key points, below.
My eternal question:  If MPPs and the Ontario Government can’t direct the needed 
revision of the curricula, and the educators won’t, which I have been told many 
times is the case,


Filename:   Curriculum TVO Jan 16/13
Date:          16 Jan 13
By:              Frank Gue, 905 634 9538, <frank.gue@cogeco.ca>
For:             Whom it may concern re education, esp. SQE Board
Re:              Key points from the TVO “Curriculum” segment of this evening
Good evening, all.
I hope most of us got to watch this math-education segment on TVO this evening.  For my own benefit, and I hope also for the benefit of any of our people who may have missed it, I tried to capture the “Man shoot bear” bits of the half-hour.  Pls excuse he dreadful formatting.  This email system and my word processor don’t talk politely to each other.
These key points were made by the panelists, who were:  Annie Kidder, John Mighton, Clive Packer.  Overall, there was general agreement that the Ontario (and Canadian, except Quebec) paradigm leans much too far in the self-directed, not far enough in the Direct Instruction (DI, or traditional, or basic) direction.
Key points made included:
      * $4M proposed by Ontario won’t go far in improving math instruction.
  • 30% of all the kids tested are doing less well than before, per PISA results.  [This is a key point: the PISA results are norm referenced, not criterion referenced, and tell us only who scored better than whom, not who mastered the subject and who didn’t.   The top PISAs might be “the best of a sorry lot”, a phrase I use to illustrate the problem, not as my opinion of the PISA results – F.G.]
  • The PISA math tests are good tests
  • The “discovery” method requires 9 year olds to “find their own way” to solve math problems, a method now being criticized in many quarters [Yes – it brings 9yo kids to tears – F.G.]
  • “They needn’t know the times tables.  My daughter is in University statistics and doesn’t know them.”  [This was stated by Kidder as a fact, not approvingly.  F.G.]
  • There is a quick method of learning (by rote) the times tables.
  • There is no “versus” (as in whole language vs phonics).  There is no one solution to a m.o. for teaching math (or anything else).  [Annie Kidder very strong on this.  Looking back, I realize that my teaching evolved into mostly DI but with a significant component (maybe 10-20%) of what I learned years later is called “Discovery” learning.  F.G.]
  • There is too much self-teaching now.  Further, the majority of parents can’t help their kids, but are expected to do so (“That is not fair” Kidder.).
  • Kumon classes are packed – why?  Because the schools aren’t doing their job.  Kidder contradicted this.
  • Educators must try new things but not abandon proven old.  “New things should be evidence-proven before being rolled out.”  [Malkin, did you write their stuff?  F.G.]
  • The use of the basics (times tables etc.) must be automatic.  Problem solutions must not be hindered and slowed down by having to “figure out how to do it” each time.  The student must know what 6 x 7 is [hey, they stole my stuff – FG],  Rote learned.  Procedures taught by DI bring confidence, self-teaching does not. 
Hope I touched all the bases.
Cheers, and good night.