** Do not think about, write about or deal with human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.**

** Wherein we see the usual progressive’s usual nonsense about education. Discovered knowledge is no more useful than taught knowledge, but it does take much longer and the final product is much more variable. Some students don’t learn what is intended and almost all of them will be frustrated. Only in the educult with jobs-for-life government employees could such nonsense be treasured. **

National Post – (Latest Edition)

Robyn Urback

Ontario’s math plan doesn’t add up

Doing something the wrong way can easily become second nature if you practise long enough. Start typing with two fingers, or make a habit of lifting from your back, or routinely brush your teeth from side to side ( or is it up and down?) and eventually you’ll become a sort of slow- typing, tartar- plagued hunchback stuck in a dentist’s chair, forced to listen to the hygienist’s annual lecture about proper brushing technique. Indeed, if you give it adequate time, you can easily become proficient at the most inefficient of endeavours.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was the theory behind Ontario’s $ 60- million “renewed math strategy,” which will require all elementary school students to have at least one hour of math instruction a day. The way students are taught math in Grade 1 through Grade 8 won’t change — indeed, it will still be of the relatively new, convoluted “discovery math” methods, over which students, parents and many teachers have been pulling their hair out for the last few years. The only difference is that students will now be devoting more time to this hard- to- grasp, overly complicated way of learning math, all while the old, effective learn- by- rote curriculum is left to gather dust in a broom closet somewhere at the Ministry of Education. Oh, and by the way, children: remember to lift with your backs.

Discovery math, which is also called “inquiry based math,” focuses on problem solving, estimation and realworld applications rather than “math facts” and memorization. Under the old curriculum, students relied on memory to solve simple multiplication questions — a technique that allowed them to summon figures instantly when later moving on to more complicated equations. But now, each mathematical process is broken down, digested and re-digested, with the intention of promoting greater understanding. In practice, however, it tends to just breed unnecessary confusion.

In a C. D. Howe Institute report from last year, University of Winnipeg professor Anna Stokke offered a good example of the tortuousness that is discovery math: “Students are often encouraged to work out number facts such as 7×8 using doubling,” she wrote. “8 is the double of 4 and 7×4 =28, so 7×8 = 28 + 28 = 56.” Everyone got that? This method could also be described as “How to make your nine- year old rip up her homework and leave the kitchen table in tears.”

If there were early hopes that discovery math would improve students’ grasp of the fundamentals, they have been dashed by steadily declining test scores — both in Ontario and in provinces such as Manitoba and Alberta, which also adopted discovery math programs. In the 2013-14 school year, for example, j ust 67 per cent of Grade 3 students in Ontario scored at or above the provincial standard in the EQAO math test, down four percentage points from 2009-10. Grade 6 students are doing worse, with only 54 per cent scoring at or above the provincial average in 2013-14, down seven percentage points from 2009-10. These trends made a whole lot of sense, considering the situation: if a student is left counting her fingers and toes to figure out 7 x 8 in Grade 3, there’s no way she’ll be able to multiply fractions in Grade 6.

The Ontario government seems to believe that more time for math could be the answer, though many provincial school boards already require five hours or more of math instruction a week. Education Minister Liz Sandals also announced Monday that every school will soon see at least one “math lead teacher” who is “deeply knowledgeable about teaching math,” though she stopped short of saying that all teachers will be required to be deeply knowledgeable about teaching math, or even that teachers will have been required to take a math class since they themselves were in Grade 11. No, the solution here is to double down and devote more time to a flawed, ineffective, needlessly complex math program. Practice makes perfect, kids.

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**In practice, discovery math ends up as a series of unconnected riddles and puzzles which have no point. Ask any 7th Grader 7×7=?, 8X8=? and 8X7=? to see how much knowledge they have. **

* The purpose of public education is to provide a proxy IQ test, not to teach, otherwise, they would use better methods. When students don’t learn they label them as dyslexic, hyperactive, disordered, and etc. Hmm.*

** As for knowledge of educational leaders, they rely on intuition to tell them what looks reasonable. Intuition is cheap, it comes free with being human, but knowledge is expensive. It is purchased by effort, so government employees use intuition to teach math. Doesn’t work because it can’t work. Never mind, it’s all pensionable time. **

**Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be? Cheerio and ttfn, Grant Coulson, Ph.D. Author, “Power Teaching: How to Find Someone to Teach Your Child when the Education System has Failed.” Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies**

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