My friend Tara Houle in BC has an excellent Op-Ed in the Vancouver Sun. Epitomizes much of what is bugging those pesky traditional math people like me:
Recently, my daughter’s dance studio did something revolutionary — they adopted an exam system for their pupils. Their reasoning for this was shocking: In order to ensure their student’s progress in a more meaningful manner, rigorous practice and assessment would be required, both for their instructors and their students. In short, students would be trained properly under the watchful eye of their knowledgeable instructors, and then be held accountable to demonstrate their understanding, and performance, by attending exam preparation sessions and a final exam. These students are in good hands.
Unfortunately, this same attention to detail isn’t happening in today’s math classrooms. Ample evidence illustrates there has been a significant decline in our student’s math performance over the past 15 years, and we also know that the percentage of our top math students has fallen dramatically. Tutoring rates have recently skyrocketed, as parents are now scrambling to ensure their kids learn the fundamentals properly — something that is lacking in today’s classrooms. This spike in enrolment correlates with an increased use of inquiry/problem based learning in our schools. Yet education leaders don’t want to acknowledge the tutoring phenomenon. They are silent when asked to investigate this issue, to determine how many kids are using tutors, and if so, why? Are our ministry officials interested, or are they afraid of what they might find?