Starting this fall, Manitoba students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 will go back to some of the old ways of learning math.

And part of that means memorizing multiplication tables, Education Minister Nancy Allan announced on Tuesday.

"Young people need to learn to do math in their heads," said Allan. "This is very important."

The new math alone wasn't working anymore and Manitoba students fared poorly in national math exams, she said.

"The balance had swung too far to doing it the new way and we had thrown out some of the really good ways of doing math and learning multiple ways of doing math," Allan said.

The province heard from parents, educators and math experts who raised concerns that children were not getting the basic skills they needed to do arithmetic and solve problems, she said.

Hanz Alignay is a Grade 11 student at Maples Collegiate. Alignay feels he hasn’t had adequate teaching in math.

"I need calculators for tests, and I just don’t think it is good," he said.

The new, revised curriculum — which will be implemented in schools provincewide in September — strikes the right balance between developing math skills, procedural thinking, conceptual understanding and problem solving to ensure students are getting a solid foundation in math, Allan said.

"They can use the technology in the classroom, but from K to Grade 3, there has to be complete understanding that it is about the basics in their head," said Allan.

Other initiatives as part of the change include:

  • Designing online curriculum supports for parents.
  • Updating high school math courses to ensure students have the necessary math skills for post-secondary education.
  • Improving teacher training in mathematics in partnership with the faculties of education.
  • Establishing a Mathematics Education Advisory Committee to provide a forum where educators can share ideas on how to improve the quality of math education and learning in Manitoba.

Allan says they'll find out if moving back to some of the basics will help. Come the fall there will be websites and resources available to help parents and teachers with the change.