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High school curriculum pushes ‘decolonial, anti-racist approach’ to math

Sebastian Hughes, DCNF

Changes to the ninth-grade math curriculum in Ontario, Canada, seek to create an anti-racist teaching environment, according to the Ministry of Education’s website.

In an online brief, the government of Ontario stated that while mathematics is “often positioned as an objective and pure discipline,” in reality, “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.”

In order for a math curriculum to be “inclusive,” it is essential that there is an “understanding that not all students necessarily learn mathematics in the same way, use the same resources (e.g., tools and materials), or learn within the same time frames.”

“A decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions,” as opposed to how mathematics has previously been taught, normalizing “racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges.”

The new ninth-grade curriculum was constructed in order to “support all students” when it comes to teaching “the range of mathematical knowledge and skills appropriate for the grade level.”

It is described as a “framework” to learn necessary skills, such as “problem-solving, coding, and modelling, as well as opportunities to develop critical data literacy, information literacy, and financial literacy skills.”

Teachers will be tasked with using an “asset-based approach that affirms students’ identities, reflects their lived experiences, leverages their strengths, and addresses their needs in order to ensure equitable, accessible, and engaging learning opportunities for every student.”

Educators must be “committed to equity and inclusion and to upholding and promoting the human rights of every learner,” as well as offer “opportunities for cross-curricular learning and for teaching about human rights” in order to “create anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments.”

The changes were announced last year by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the Toronto Sun reported.

“The world has changed, the economy has changed and so should the curriculum that inspires and informs our students and leaders of tomorrow,” Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for Lecce’s office, told the Toronto Sun.

“That’s why our government was proud to launch a new curriculum that is focused on the job market, gives young people skills they can apply to their lives, to their households, to their personal budgeting, with an emphasis on financial literacy,” she said.

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