Ontario’s new Grade 9 curriculum preaches ‘subjective’ nature of mathematics

New curriculum claims to address historical use of math to “normalize racism” and “marginalization of non-Eurocentric knowledge”

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It’s apparently about more than just the numbers.

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Changes to Ontario’s math curriculum announced last year by Education Minister Stephen Lecce will include a ‘subjective’ and ‘decolonial’ approach to mathematics, according to documents posted on the ministry’s website.

“Mathematics is often positioned as an objective and pure discipline,” reads a section of an online brief highlighting the ‘vision and goals’ of the updated curriculum.

“However, the content and the context in which it is taught, the mathematicians who are celebrated, and the importance that is placed upon mathematics by society are subjective.”

Math, it continues, has been “used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges,” and explains that taking a “decolonial” and “anti-racist approach” to teaching math will outline its “historical roots and social constructions” to students.

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“The Ontario Grade 9 mathematics curriculum emphasizes the need to recognize and challenge systems of power and privilege, both inside and outside the classroom, in order to eliminate systemic barriers and to serve students belonging to groups that have been historically disadvantaged and underserved in mathematics education,” the brief continues.

Minister Lecce previously announced the new curriculum will bring early math streaming to an end, a practice he says created barriers for racialized and historically marginalized groups.

Teachers will be required to promote cross-curricular learning and human rights to create “anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments.”

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They are also encouraged to incorporate culturally specific examples that highlight First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures, histories and current realities to “infuse Indigenous knowledges and perspectives meaningfully and authentically” into the math program.

Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Minister Lecce’s office, said the new curriculum represents one that reflects a changing world.

“We are taking action to ensure all children, especially those facing barriers to success, have meaningful pathways to quality learning, graduation, access to post-secondary education and good-paying jobs,” she said.


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