While we tend to be highly critical of the NDP government and its management of Manitoba affairs, there have been a few noteworthy improvements made under education that deserve to be noted.
Earlier this month, the province announced that it will be taking kindergarten to Grade 8 math education back to the basics as of this September.
Under the new curriculum, students will be expected to memorize their times tables, learn to multiply and divide on paper and in their heads before they ever lay hands on a calculator in class.
For parents who remember their own math education, this is a welcome return to an education style that should never have been sidetracked in the first place. Thankfully, the province listened to parents, educators and math experts who have been raising concerns that children were not getting the basic skills they needed to do arithmetic and solve problems.
As Brandon School Division board chair Mark Sefton noted, Manitoba ranks on the lower half of Canadian provinces, when it comes to math scores.
When students enter university with no understanding of mathematics or very little knowledge of the subject, it creates problems for instructors and students, who are then forced to play catch-up and relearn the math they should already have mastered in elementary and high school.
Secondly, as you can read in today’s Brandon Sun, the province’s new mandated plain language school report cards will be on display this week.
By introducing these new report cards, and making them mandatory for all students in Manitoba classrooms, the province is standardizing how the information provided for parents about their child’s education.
The three formats — one for grades 1 to 6, one for grades 7 and 8, and another for grades 9 to 12 — are designed to provide consistent, clear information that separates out academic achievement from comments about a child’s effort, attitude and learning behaviours in class. The new high school report card (grades 9 to 12) contains a completion of requirements for graduation chart, showing the student’s progress toward graduation.
Implementation of the new report card format is mandatory in all public schools starting in September of this year.
In our opinion, an increased emphasis on teaching mental math will only help build strong young minds and help teach practical, analytical skills they will need later in life, even if they never step foot in a university.
And providing clear and concise wording for parents is a good move, one that should cut down on confusing or unhelpful language that tells parents little about how their child is doing in school.
All in all, these are good changes that we believe will yield solid results for parents and their children come the fall.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 25, 2013