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安省数学危机让华裔家长忧心忡忡
Math teachers are responsible for students’ math crisis

 
 
加拿大的教育系统在全世界享有极高的声誉。为此,许多移民家长为了让他们的孩子能够享受到世界上最好的教育系统而背井离乡来到加国定居。遗憾的是,加拿大学生们的数学技能已经持续恶化。今年,安大略省六年级有一半学生在数学考试中未能达标,令那些重视数学教育文的家长们忧心忡忡。这些看到自己的孩子在数学上裹足不前,而祖国同龄孩子们在数学上独领风骚之现状的华裔家长们,不禁觉得自己脸上被重重地扇了一掌。

The education system in Canada enjoys an exceptional global reputation, and many immigrants have uprooted from their home country to Canada so that their children can enjoy the best education system in the world. But students across Canada have shown continued deteriorating in math skills. This year, half of Grade 6 students in Ontario failed to meet the provincial standard in math test, unveiling a disturbing reality for many parents from a cultural background that values education the most. Seeing their children suffer setbacks in math learning while their Chinese peers are thriving is slap in the face to them. 


安省学生们糟糕的数学成绩使许多家长都在问这样严峻的问题:是什么造成了孩子们的数学危机?怎么解决这一严峻的问题?作为父母的我认为,除了数学大纲有缺陷外,数学的教学质量差是问题的根本。

The poor math results leave many parents grappling with big questions: what has caused the crisis and how to diffuse it? In my opinion as a parent, apart from flaws in math curriculum, poor quality in math teaching should bear the brunt of the blame.


安省学生的数学危机从几年前就开始了。当时,加拿大学生在国际数学竞赛中排名下降,且越来越多的安大略省学生在EQAO数学考试中过不了关。这场危机让安省数学老师的教学能力成为关注焦点。根据多伦多星报的报道,安数学教师根本拿不起这份职业,其中许多数学老师本人尚未能掌握数学的基本技能。

The math crisis started several years ago, when Canadian students faced a decline ranking in international math competition, and when a growing number of Ontario students failed EQAO math test. The crisis has put Ontario math teachers’ weak math skills under microscope. According to Toronto Star’s report, Ontario math teachers faced tremendous struggles in their profession, with many of them not getting basic math. 


有些教师在被要求回答6年级时学过的数学内容时,竟然会泪眼婆娑。多伦多大学的安省教育研究所的教授雷德表示,“我在和一些不知道如何进行乘法和除法运算的人士打交道,他们不知道‘余数“是什么,竟然将3的余数和0.3等同而视。”

Some teachers, when asked to recall their grade 6 math, were in tears.” I’m working with some who don’t know how to multiply or divide,” noted professor Mary Reid of U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). “They have no idea what a ‘remainder’ is. They think a remainder of 3 is the same as decimal 3.”


一位数学老师在环球邮报发表文章暗示,剔除数学教学大纲中的一些较难的内容可以帮助提高学生的考试成绩。他似乎建议数学课中不再讲授让学生头疼的概念,包括如何计算三角棱形的表面积和体积等。此老师认为数学课应该教一些“重要”的大数学概念,而不是“区区小事”。 这位老师在文中问道:“你想想你啥时候算过三角棱镜的表面积?”。

One math teacher wrote an article published on the Globe and Mail, implying that leaving out some difficult subjects in math curriculum can help boost students’ math test results. He seems to suggest that the curriculum should remove the part that students struggling the most – including how to calculate the surface area and volume of a triangular prism, citing reasons that math should cover “big ideals”, rather than the “miniate”. “When was the last time you calculated the surface area of a triangular prism?” he asked in the article. 


你实在是想不到这句话会出自一位数学老师之口。是啊!解决数学成绩不好的最佳捷径是不要给学生出难题,这样每个学生都会得到好成绩,老师和学生皆大欢喜。而“难以掌握的数学概念在现实生活中根本用不到”也成为这位数学教师之建议的最佳借口。 

It is incredibly unsettling to see suggestions like this from a math teacher. Of course, a shortcut solution to deteriorated math test results is to leave out the subject that are too difficult to comprehend.  It will make the life of both teachers and students much easier and bring a better test result to everyone. That the difficult math topic has never been used in real life will make a perfect excuse for this suggestion.


但这位教师的建议从轻而言荒谬之极,从重而言则带有欺骗成分。的确,学生所面临的许多数学问题在现实生活中都不会遇到。但是,如果想在科技垄断一切的现代化时代生存和发展,包括逻辑思维,解决问题和定量推理能力的分析思考技能是学生们必须掌握的东西。除了帮助学生获得这些现代生活中不可缺少的技能外,数学也为他们今后专上教育铺平了道路,不管他们是否攻读数学专业。

But his idea is ridiculous at best, deceptive at worst. Indeed, many subjects covered in students’ math courses are not applicable in real life. But a series of reasoning and thinking skills -- from analytical thinking, problem solving, and quantitative reasoning are critical for students to acquire in order to survive and thrive in the technology dominated modern era. Apart from helping students develop these skills generally required in real life, math learning also paves a path for the future education process in post secondary schools – in math related major or not.


难怪你会看到具有如此低下数学水平的教师们站在课堂上面对自己都搞不清的数学问题时抓耳挠腮!如果你不会做乘法和除法,或者搞不清余数是怎么回事,你当然就会为三角形棱镜的表面积或体积而垂足顿胸!

With teachers’ math skills in this weak level, it is unsurprising to see math teachers pulling their hair out when they are standing in front of a classroom to teach students the subjects that they themselves are struggling to comprehend. If you can’t multiply of divide, or if you don’t know what remainder is, you would face a tough time trying to figure out the surface area or volume of a triangular prism.


如果安省数学老师们自己就患有数学恐慌症,我们就无法指望他们能帮助学生们克服对数学的畏惧感。回避绝对不是解决数学焦虑的办法。毫无疑问,如果我们把数学难题一个个从教学大纲中剔除的话,数十年后,数学课程可能会从安省的学校中消失,而那些相信认为加国教育系统为全球最佳的移民家长们也就为其当初的盲从而后悔莫及了!

We can’t expect that Ontario math teachers to help their students overcome their fear, if they themselves suffer from math phobia. But avoidance is not the way to address the math anxiety.  Undoubtedly, if we relieve the fear by leaving out difficult topics bit by bit from the curriculum, a few decades from now, the math course might disappear from Ontario schools altogether, leaving immigrant parents crying afoul over their belief that Canada’s education system is one of the best in the world.  
 
 

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