Saskatchewan orders math education review

The Saskatchewan government has launched a review of the province's math curriculum, following concerns about how math is being taught.

The Saskatchewan government has launched a review of the province's math curriculum, following concerns that have been raised about how math is being taught.

Critics of Saskatchewan's current model of math education say it abandons teaching math basics in favour of new discovery-based instructional techniques, producing graduates with abysmal math skills as a result.

As part of the government's review, announced on Monday, Saskatchewan Party MLAs Russ Marchuk and Gene Makowsky will consult with math teachers in the coming months.

"Math is extremely important, and I have said that we need to improve student acheivement," said Education Minister Donna Harpauer.

"If there is something that needs to be done to strengthen the math curriculum, I need some feedback to know what that might look like."

Marchuk worked as a school administrator before he entered politics, while Makowsky — a former Saskatchewan Roughrider — also worked as a substitute teacher in the past.

The MLAs will host six sessions with teachers across the province in late January and early February, according to officials.

Harpauer said teachers will be consulted on whether their support materials and textbooks need improvement, and if they need extra support.

Broaden the discussion, says academic

University professors in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have banded together to form the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WISE Math), in order to lobby education ministers to bring back traditional methods of teaching math.

Robert Craigen, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba and a member of WISE Math, called the Saskatchewan government's review a good first step.

However, he said the consultation meetings with teachers will be held behind closed doors, meaning there will be a lack of public discussion.

"The consultations themselves were highly limited. They were not the sort of thing that gave mathematicians an opportunity to comment at a detailed level," he said.

Craigen said parents should also be consulted, as well as academics in mathematics and other disciplines such as science, engineering, economics, medicine and management.