Canada’s education system ranks above many countries in the developed world. Canadian students generally develop crucial skills in science and mathematics and are capable of competing on the global stage. Still, the education system in Canada can be improved in several respects. Improvement in these areas will guarantee that 2014 is a better year for education in Canada than 2013 was.
In recent years, Canada has consistently placed in the top 10 with respect to mathematics education. However, in 2013, Canada suffered a steep drop in rankings. The country placed 13th in the world, down three spots from their ranking in 2009 and six spots from 2006. This is a dire situation. The reputation of the Canadian education system now hangs in the balance and substantial reforms are necessary for Canada to regain their global position before it is too late. To recommend solutions requires diagnosing issues, however.
Recent changes to the mathematics curriculum have been emphasized as a potential explanation for the decline in rankings. Critics of the recent changes to the curriculum argue that the new curriculum has placed too much of a focus on real world applications, as opposed to abstract concepts and reasoning. This argument is well founded. Application without theory forces students to concentrate on solving specific problems as opposed to being flexible enough to adapt to the exigencies of new decision-making environments.
The latter skill is essential in a world that is rapidly depending more and more on technology. The global economy requires workers that can solve new problems and theory is indispensable toward this goal. Students who are flexible enough to solve a variety of problems should expect an increase in pay in their careers, as these skills become more and more attractive in the private sector. Focusing more on theory ought to also make the degree easier to get as one can accumulate experience with various perspectives, thus facilitating the processing of new information encountering in one’s courses.
For Canada’s 2014 to be a better year for education than 2013 was, Canada needs to reemphasize the role of theory in mathematics education. Although a focus on practice and application is admirable and allows students to better connect with the material, too much of a focus can inhibit progress by constraining the number of problems students can solve. As the entire globe continues to shift toward a knowledge-based economy, theory is more important than ever. It increases flexibility in decision-making and increases students’ knowledge base. This flexibility will be vital in the future and Canada would be foolish not to promote ways of thinking that will allow their students to flourish in a constantly evolving global