Sudbury

Ontario teachers colleges now require students to review elementary school math

'There's no reason for an adult not to understand concepts that are taught to Grade 6 students'

laurentian student teachers

Kelsey Anthony and Taryn Courneya say reviewing elementary school math has helped them teach the subject better. (Samantha Lui/CBC )

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Teachers' colleges in Ontario are encouraging students to review their elementary school math skills to help them get over their fear of the subject and improve their skills before entering the workforce. 

Here in Sudbury, teachers enrolled at Laurentian University's five-year concurrent education program are required to take 72 hours of math courses before graduation — an increase from the 18 hours of math that was implemented when the program started in 2003. 

The thought of taking math courses originally made student teacher Taryn Courneya nervous. Growing up, she did not look forward to the subject in school. 

"I struggled with fractions, geometry and word problems. I really disliked it. It was very hard for me," she said. 

Kelsey Anthony, who specializes in physical education, also admitted that reviewing elementary school math was a bit challenging, after not doing the subject for years. 

"Taking the math course and re-learning all those things from Grades 4-5 — it was pretty difficult. I haven't seen fractions in a long time," she said. 

Emotional 'barrier' students need to get rid of

Universities like Lakehead and Trent now require students to take proficiency tests that review basics like fractions, multiplication and percentages. 

Students often come into teachers' college with backgrounds like liberal arts and history, says Serge Demers, a former math teacher with Laurentian University's faculty of education

As a result, he said students are intimidated by the math courses they're required to take. 

"Math has a strong effect on adults in particular," he said.

"You need to get rid of that negative emotion. Rationally speaking, there's no reason for an adult not to understand concepts that are taught to Grade 6 students." 

​Courneya and Anthony, who are graduating this year, both agree with Demers. 

Having taken courses to review elementary school math, they now feel more confident in their skills. 

"One hundred percent, I think students ... they just look at [math] and [think] 'It's too hard. I'm never going to get it,'" said Courneya, who has since taught students in Grade 7 and 8. 

"I was teaching them math and helping them with stuff. I can look at it now and do it no problem."

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