Our children lack a solid foundation in arithmetic which seriously hinders their ability to be successful in math in the higher grades. When they lack this foundation they are unable to be the competent problem-solvers that constructivism has promised. Constructivism is not working for too many of our children and we are forced to look to tutors and learning centres for this foundation. This is very expensive and creates a two-tier system of education in the province as many people are unable to pay for a tutor.
Parents are responsible for helping their children review material, but we are frequently put in the role of math teacher as teachers are unable to complete the math curriculum in school.The texts used in Ontario are very confusing for parents and children and should be much more straight-forward. Children generally need more structure and practice than is provided by these texts. Parents should be in the role of assistants not teachers.
Colleges and universities are providing extensive remediation for students and even students with high marks lack the basics and flounder as they progress through the system. They are using calculators at too early an age and seem to slide through the system without really knowing much at all. Math has traditionally been a filter in the later grades, but now children are being filtered out of technical and scientific courses at an early age, the age at which they should be becoming capable and confident.As future careers in science and math are taken from our children at a very early age, EQAO and PISA scores are showing steady decline.In fact these scores are actually being kept artificially high because of outside tutoring and parent payments. Parents are not responsible for paying to support EQAO scores. The financial burden for parents is tremendous.
Constructivism is failing too many of our children, frustrating far too many parents and has not worked in jurisdictions where it has previously been tried. The system needs serious rethinking. It is our children who are suffering; we are the ones who see that on a daily basis. We are the ones paying out of our own pockets. Our children are not pieces of data to be manipulated, but are real people who are struggling and should be doing much better in a province as wealthy as Ontario.
We would like our children to have a solid foundation in arithmetic. This should be thorough and complete and does not preclude problem-solving at all. Structured math and good knowledge of arithmetic does not mean that children cannot be taught to understand nor think. A solid foundation should not be dismissed as rote learning or old-fashioned. It is essential to life in the 21st.century and can lead to thorough understanding, good problem-solving, future opportunity and feelings of competence.
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