LILLEY: Leave lefty politics out of Ontario’s math curriculum

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Can we just teach math to kids in Ontario without a side dish of left-wing politics, or is that too much to ask? If you haven’t heard, Ontario’s new math curriculum teaches that math is racist, Eurocentric, and subjective rather than objective.

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This is found in the newly-updated Grade 9 math curriculum that was brought in to replace the failing math curriculum championed by the Wynne government.

In the old system, the government developed a curriculum that failed so badly, standardized test scores fell over the previous decade while reading and writing did not.

Less than half of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard. In Grade 9, it was the same story for those in the applied streaming category with just 44% meeting the standard as compared to 84% for the academic stream.

Improving the system for those streamed into applied math — in part, by getting rid of streaming was supposed to be part of the solution.

One of the criticisms of the streaming system is that it pushed economically-disadvantaged kids away from a chance at higher education by streaming them into applied math when they would require advanced for university and many college courses. Many of those students were also from racial and ethnic minority groups, and the call went out to make sure the system was being fair to these students by stopping streaming and improving the curriculum.

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Of course, in doing that, the academics and bureaucrats who wrote the curriculum had to insert their politics into the subject matter, including teaching that “mathematics can be subjective.”

“Mathematics is often positioned as an objective and pure discipline. 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,” the new curriculum reads.

If we are talking about the history surrounding mathematics, then there may be some merit to this statement, but that is not the issue with this part of the curriculum.

“Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions,” the curriculum states.

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This, I can’t get on board with.

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Math, as we know it, has been developed by a myriad of cultures and ethnicities from the ancient Greeks and the Babylonians to brilliant mathematicians from India and China who developed their own systems. In the medieval era, it was Muslim scholars across the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia who synthesized and advanced many of these concepts.

Calling math Eurocentric is historically inaccurate and wrong on so many levels. Sadly, the woke warriors who populate our education system will always find a way to work their leftist political agenda into what students are taught, regardless of its accuracy.

Surprisingly, the Ford government is defending these statements in the curriculum by sounding like the old lefty Bob Dylan anthem, The Times They Are A-Changin.

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“The world has changed, the economy has changed and so should the curriculum that inspires and informs our students and leaders of tomorrow,” said Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

“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.”

Math hasn’t changed, though, and calling mathematics subjective, racist, and Eurocentric does nothing to help students who were left behind by the old curriculum. This is the Ford government supporting a political agenda at odds with their own, and that has nothing to do with the academic success of students.

Changing the curriculum to focus on financial literacy, real-world applications and a system that works for students was the right thing to do. Letting the activists insert their lefty politics into the classroom and then defending it was the wrong thing to do.

Lecce should fix this.

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