As a grade 6 teacher who has just finished correcting provincial math exams, I am convinced that our government has taken the wrong path in evaluating knowledge that our children in Quebec society have grasped through our educational system. The exam is divided into 8 parts, with one large situational problem and 6 shorter applications.There is also a traditional multiple choice and quick answer booklet.
There is no sound pedagogy in what the government is requesting from 11 and 12 year olds. The applications took anywhere from 1 to 1 and a half hours, rather than the 20 to 30 minute time limit the government wanted. The situational took 2 days rather than the 1 to 2 and a half hours.The children could not do this on their own, despite discussion beforehand to clarify exactly what was being requested of them. The government is asking them to work in isolation on a budget proposal scenario which frankly is irrelevant for most children, and the steps involved are too complex. Most twelve year olds do not hold the purse strings in their families. They are lucky if they have an allowance. Parents buy the necessities and children in poor neighbourhoods have never handled money. They may be able to find percents and calculate tax on an item when we scaffold the activities, but they have no idea what budgets and proposals are about.The applications are too long and the language is such that the child does not even know what is being asked.
This was an eventful week for Quebec’s History program. Thursday the Gazette published two excellent articles by Marian Scott about the reactions to the Education Minister’s flip-flop on his previous commitment to put the controversial new History curriculum on hold, and the decision of the English School Boards to implement this curriculum:
Robert Green speaks with CBC’s Sue Smith about the Couillard government backtracking on its commitment to postpone the implementation of its controversial reform of the province’s History curriculum. Stream the interview below or click here to download the mp3.
By Robert Green | Published by Montreal Gazette June 1, 2016
Earlier this year, Quebecers learned of a reform to the province’s history curriculum that provoked a great deal of concern. Not only was the role of Quebec’s anglophone community reduced to that of a comic book villain intent on impeding progress, indeed the contributions of all of Quebec’s minority groups seemed to be systematically excluded. There was nothing about the anglophones who participated in the 1837 rebellions or organized some of Quebec’s first labour strikes; nothing about the struggles against discrimination faced by Jewish and Italian immigrants; nothing about the contributions of more recent immigrants, like the Vietnamese or Haitian communities.
However, perhaps the most significant omission had to do with the First Nations. This reform was being developed at the very moment the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made its recommendations. Specifically the TRC recommended that all levels of government “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.” Quebec had a real opportunity to be the first province to implement the recommendation. Instead, by ignoring the TRC and refusing to engage in any meaningful consultation with First Nations communities, Quebec instead chose to reinforce the colonial pattern of relations that has existed for hundreds of years.