Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ontario teachers are denouncing what they describe as the botched implementation of the province’s new math curriculum, saying they’ve had little guidance on material they’re expected to teach in just a few weeks.

It would be a challenging task in the best of times, they said, but the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it untenable.

“It just seems that our plans are not where they should be, and the math is one more piece that hasn’t really been properly prepared,” said Karl Fernandes, a Grade 4 and 5 teacher at a Catholic school in Toronto. “And of all the things that we have to tend to right now, a new math program seems to be the one that you could put pause on. And yet, we seem to be told, ‘Just go right ahead.’ ”

Story continues below advertisement

Is Canada ready to open schools?: André Picard on what parents need to know about schools reopening

Mr. Fernandes said he has yet to receive formal training in the curriculum. That will come during the three professional development days just before classes resume.

“As much as I’m looking forward to seeing more of this new math program, the idea of being able to implement it properly and be prepared for it, it just seems so unrealistic,” he said.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education unveiled the much-hyped new curriculum in late June, in Premier Doug Ford’s latest move to bolster math scores, a key talking point in his 2018 election campaign.

The curriculum, part of a $200-million “back to basics” math strategy, incorporates learning to code, expanded learning on financial literacy and a return to memorizing multiplication tables.

The government said students will also now get only one mark for math over all, instead of separate marks for each strand.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce did not respond to a request for comment on the teachers’ concerns, but pointed to the minister’s announcement of curriculum details earlier in the summer, when he said the province “must take action immediately” to bolster math scores.

“I appreciate the broader challenge around us, but we must move forward with these necessary reforms to give hope to these students that when they graduate they can aspire to get a good paying job,” Mr. Lecce said at the time. “If we get this right today we can literally change the course of the work force.”

Story continues below advertisement

But the head of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association said the province has been getting it wrong. Liz Stuart said that while the union is happy to have a new curriculum, implementing such a change successfully takes “time, resources and supports” – which she said the government has been slow to deliver.

“The government’s insistence on rushing the release of a new mathematics curriculum, while we are still grappling with the uncertainty in education during a public-health crisis, is foolhardy, disrespectful and counterproductive,” Ms. Stuart said in a statement.

Mary Reid, an expert in math curriculum at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, agreed.

“It’s a really good curriculum, it is needed, and it’s got some really excellent revisions to it that will support mathematics education for Grades 1 to 8,” she said. “However, the timing of the implementation of this curriculum couldn’t be worse.”

She said teachers are rightly focused on health and safety – both that of their students, and their own.

Prof. Reid said that for a curriculum to be effective, it must be properly implemented, with ongoing training.

Story continues below advertisement

“The research shows that if you just put it out there and give it to teachers, without real professional development support, it’s not going to be implemented successfully,” she said. “The results could be a lot of struggles, because there’s a lot of new content in the curriculum. There’s going to be a lot of frustration, there’s going to be an incoherent vision of math education.”

Jeff Hackett, who teaches a Grade 7 and 8 split class in Windsor, said ideally, he would have liked to get training on the province’s new curriculum much earlier so he could consult with colleagues and math experts.

“Because the document was released so late, and we’re still waiting on information as to what September is going to exactly look like, we’re juggling a lot of balls right now.”

Globe health columnist André Picard and senior editor Nicole MacIntyre discuss the many issues surrounding sending kids back to school. André says moving forward isn't about there being no COVID-19 cases, but limiting their number and severity through distancing, smaller classes, masks and good hygiene. The Globe and Mail

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies