What I will be discussing is a real, current Ontario Grade 9 Math Curriculum (starting Sept 2021). Find the full document on the Ontario government website here dcp.edu.gov.on.ca. UPDATE: The Ontario government has removed this paragraph today (July 14, 2021). This is what the document looked like yesterday:
Just erasing the paragraph however, does not erase the agenda. It just hides it from public scrutiny…..
I believe in using language correctly and meaningfully. “Worldview math” appears to be a social studies curriculum document masquerading as math, but it is not mathematics. In other words, it is social studies about math, but does not outline a road to math competency, just as taking a class on French culture does not lead to fluency in speaking French.
So what does the curriculum document entail? The nine page curriculum policy document includes a lot of couching language such as: An equitable mathematics curriculum recognizes that mathematics can be subjective….Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges…..The Ontario Grade 9 curriculum emphasizes the need to recognize and challenge systems of power and privilege.
What does the curriculum not include? In the entire nine page document, and I read through it twice, there is not a single mention of a specific skill that will be covered in Grade 9. It includes countless references to ‘lived experiences’, ‘communication’, ‘competencies’, and ‘belonging’, but nowhere does it outline what would be expected of standard math instruction in grade 9. Why does the central outline of a math course focus on social studies rather than rational numbers, solving inequalities, inverse variation, writing function rules, rate of slope and change, just to name a few standard Grade 9 math skills. Buried in the morass of worldview language throughout the de-streamed Grade 9 math site, ‘The Strands’ finally do mention math skills, but only under an overarching Social-Emotional Learning Skills umbrella that engages the student in experienced feelings, emotions, stress, etc. about math as well as developing a healthy ‘mathematical identity’.
We live in a university town and I showed this document to some of my friends at the park yesterday evening. They come from a variety of backgrounds including a Google employee, an actuary, a mom who works in finance, and a math teacher who stated that her husband who works for Blackberry “would have a cow” if he saw this new curriculum. But they all agreed: This is not math education – it is math indoctrination.
Importantly it left us all wondering: where does this leave the students?
Where does this leave the students?
The Ontario Grade 9 Math Curriculum aims to affirm students in their identity, their beliefs, and their ‘math knowledges’, but it does not appear to place primary importance on the skills that are actually needed to gain math competence. This leaves students deprived of proper math education.
Even a cursory look at the history of math confirms a rich tapestry of cultures dating back to 35’000 BC using numbering systems and use of mathematics for land area calculation (Ancient Egypt), accounting (Incas), selling and trading (West Africa), negative number notation (China), and as far as I recall we use Arabic numerals. Students will be taught that mathematics is based on a euro-centric, oppressive, colonial tradition; they are thus not just deprived, but also deceived.
This type of math instruction may well lead to increased inequality: parents who can afford a proper math education will simply pay for it, as many already do. Those students whose parents cannot afford private education or tutoring are left with ‘social studies’ math deprivation and will lack fundamental skills needed for higher math studies. Decreased math = increased inequality. This is basic math.
I would encourage you to share this post with parents, educators, principals, councilors, MPPs. Raise your concerns. I wonder how many are aware what direction our math education is taking?
If you would like to offer your student solid math instruction, take a look at Teaching Math. If you would like someone else to offer solid math instruction to your student take a look at Online Schools. If you would like to have some fun with solid math instruction try Right Start Math Games.
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