Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Live, Tuesday

Is Canada falling behind in math, science and reading? Add to ...

Comment From BSG: One of the major differences between the Asian school systems and the ones in North America is critical thinking and innovation - In Asia (China, South Korea, Japan to an extent) the focus is primarily on rote memorization of facts, figures and formulas in order to do well on their university entrance exams, where they will then cruise through 4 very easy years of university to a BA - This is in stark contrast to the provincial examinations here in Canada with essay questions and the level of education rising significantly when advancing to University

Andrew Parkin: Equity shows up in a number of ways. For instance, it matters less in Canada than elsewhere where a child goes to school -- there is less difference between schools in advantaged and disadvantaged areas. Also, the gap between the scores of immigrant and non-immigrant children is smaller in Canada that elsewhere, which is remarkable when you think of the relatively large proportion of immigrants in the Canadian population.

Comment From os: Andrew with the strong demand in the future for technological advancement in all field's how is the council going to change or implement the importance of math, sciences and design into the currcuiculm so that Canada will advance and not lag in these future fields

Andrew Parkin: Let me try to answer the question about technological advancement. This is something that is on everyone's minds. The issue is not only science education, but ensuring students are able to cope in a world that demands the ability to access, analyze and communicate information quickly. The provincial ministries of education are already thinking about how schools need to adapt to that. This is part of an international trend toward thinking about what skills students need in the 21st century.

Comment From J: That's all well and good but high marks in math like from China doesn't necessarily equate to new innovations or entrepreneurial success. Add to the fact that China's numbers in a city like Shanghai is skewed because of who is accepted into such schools (i.e. no immigrants from poorer provinces)

Andrew Parkin: I can't comment too much on the issue of approaches to learning in Asian as opposed to Canadian systems, except to say that I wouldn't underestimate the degree of modernization that is going on around the world, and the appetite of each country to learn from the best approaches of others.

Andrew Parkin: Marks in math may not translated automatically into success. But I think we can be confident that achieving and maintaining success is much harder if you are starting from a situation where students are not able to perform advanced taks in core subject areas.

Comment From os: When can we see or expect to see these changes for the benefit of the students that are needed in the 21st century

Comment From Guest: I have a BSc and like most of my friends, I am working in a field unrelated or only minimally related to science. How do you encourage young students to study the sciences when their job prospects in Canada are highly regionalized (eg, the biotech sector) or are poor without getting advanced (PhD, MD) or specialized training (college diploma)?

Andrew Parkin: Some of these changes are underway and have been for some time -- although the precise nature of what is implemented and when is determined by each province. And it is a continuing process; there will always be more to do.

Comment From mollieon: Primary and elementary teachers are often weak in math but must teach every subject. Many do not want to teach math; would prefer specialists teach it. Teachers don't understand the theory themselves and are frustrated. We could do better if we provided specialized resources for the primary and elementary teachers.

Andrew Parkin: There is always a difference between the experience of individuals and overall trends. In general, students will BAs or BScs do much better than those who do not complete a university degree. That doesn't mean that all graudates find the match they are looking for. But it does mean that overall the benefits of obtaining degrees are clear.

Report Typo/Error
Single page

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular