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We Need to Change the Conversation!

I am sorry I can not read. Writing was my weakest subject in school and my brother is great at it. Change the subject to Mathematics and the first two lines become acceptable?

Ontario announced millions of dollars focused on Mathematics in public elementary schools recently but the root I feel has not been identified.

How do we change an attitude? I hear principals and Education Officers say how poor they are in Math in front of other Educators and some laugh. Parents say it as well in parent -teacher interviews. It is okay not to be able to do Math is the implication here.

Yes I have a Mathematics degree and I do not expect everyone to be like me. Not everyone is a novelist with a best selling book but we can read and write (communicate).  We all are consumers, have homes, earn a living and live in today’s society. We all do basic calculations, check prices, check our pay checks, check our bills and bank accounts.  Some do it better than others but we all are able to function in today’s world with the Mathematics background from our schooling.

Mathematics is another way to communicate and I will say another Literacy.  If Mathematics had the same stigma as reading and writing and we stopped saying we can not do Mathematics, may be we will see a change in our achievement rather hearing acceptable excuses.

Today in the Toronto Star is a commentary by Graham Orpwood is Professor Emeritus at York University. Emily Brown is Professor of Mathematics at the Pilon School of Business, Sheridan College.  The Toronto Star

This part stood out.

“The most important step is one of changing public and private attitudes. Whereas lack of literacy is a matter of personal shame and embarrassment in our society, a corresponding lack of numeracy is not. Indeed, many people openly claim to be unable to do mathematics. This is not an attitude found in Canada alone; it is encountered in many western (but few Asian) societies and is one that we dismiss as the “myth of the math gene.” Instead, Ontario should adopt and then act on these two principles:

  • Everyone can be numerate as well as literate.
  • Everyone needs to be numerate as well as literate to function fully in the 21st century.”

About Mark Brighton

High school Mathematics teacher in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. See About for more info.

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