Ontario’s new math curriculum for ninth-grade students was unveiled last month, but the responsible education minister has already decided that it should be revised.
An entire section has been removed in its introduction stating that mathematics teaching has been used to marginalize non-Eurocentric knowledge, while references to challenging existing power structures have been removed or modified in many other sections.
“It is incredibly chilling that (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce is willing to make a stroke of his pen, in a back room, behind closed doors and without consultation, to change what all children in Ontario will be taught,” said the NDP of the Opposition. Education critic Marit Stiles and anti-racist critic Laura Mae Lindo said in a statement.
The new curriculum, which the progressive Conservative government released in early June, calls for coding and financial and data literacy, and ended the practice of placing students in applied and advanced versions of the subject when they enter college. high school, a practice that has tended to be a disadvantage. Black students and other racialized students.
“The ninth grade math program was specifically changed because Ontario finally had to recognize that the existing system treated black, indigenous and racialized students unequally,” said critics of the NDP. “It’s pretty clear that we need more fairness and anti-racism lenses in schools, not less.”
While the original version said that educators should use culturally relevant pedagogy to “create anti-racist and anti-oppressive teaching and learning opportunities,” the updated version does not.
In a section on indigenous approaches to mathematics, the new version removes the reference to the use of examples that “make visible the colonial contexts of current mathematics education.”
The new document also removes the requirement that teachers help students “recognize the ways in which mathematics can be used as a tool to discover, explore, analyze, and promote actions to address social and environmental problems, such as inequity and poverty. discrimination”.
Lecce spokeswoman Caitlin Clark did not respond to questions about whether the minister reviewed the entire document before signing it and why he approved it in its original form.
He said the government was committed to teaching students the fundamentals of mathematics, ending the earlier liberal government’s “mathematical discovery” approach, which sought to establish conceptual knowledge and problem solving prior to learning procedures.
“Our four-year, $ 200 million math strategy will ensure that all students, including students facing barriers to success, are once again learning the fundamental concepts they need to be successful in the classroom and on the job market.” , He said.
But teachers who criticized the move said it was a step in the wrong direction.
Jason To, a high school math teacher and coordinator of high school math and academic trajectories at the Toronto District School Board, said that without critical analysis of how math has distorted reality and may continue to distort reality, it is more likely that the history repeats itself. .
“Without the use of mathematics as a tool to uncover social problems, the practice of police carding would continue to further harm black and indigenous communities across Canada, climate change would be even more out of control, and COVID-19 responses would not. they would have (eventually) prioritized those in higher risk neighborhoods ”, wrote in a blog post about the changes.
Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer