Alberta, Canada brings back column addition!

Meet the inimitable Dr Nhung Tran-Davies, a concerned parent who started the “Back to Basics Math Petition” in Alberta, Canada, and has gathered a whopping 16,000+ signatures. I’ve always thought of Canadians as pretty laid back, but now I see they are passionate about things that really matter, and their passion brings about change.

The petition (and a protest outside the Alberta Legislature) forced their Minister of Education to open his doors for discussion. He has agreed to the following curriculum changes:

  1. To remove the need for students to use multiple strategies to solve problems.
  2. To remove all disparaging languages regarding memorization, practice, and standard algorithms.
  3. Re-integration of the multiplication table in the curriculum.
  4. Explicit expectations for children to recall basic math facts.
  5. The re-inclusion of the “traditional algorithms” as a listed option for teaching.

Nhung’s work hasn’t finished yet – she won’t stop until column addition and the other column-based methods are mandated. Her dedication to this important cause sets an example to us all.

The Canadian media have played a huge part in igniting public debate and instigating change. What will it take for the New Zealand media to show a similar interest?

Dr Audrey Tan, Mathmo Consulting
June 2014



Alberta government makes progress on fixing badly broken math curriculum, but… | Edmonton Journal
The Great Canadian Math Debate, Pt. 44: Tran-Davies has met with Education Minister Jeff Johnson and made real progress on fixing our math curriculum, but standard arithmetic still needs to be a curriculum imperative …
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