By Maureen Coulter
Sept. 12, 2014
Greg Doran and David Horrocks are looking forward to a extensive plan by English Language School Board aimed at helping students do better in math and English.
Doran teaches English at the University of P.E.I. and Horrocks teaches math there. They see the struggles of students when they come to their courses with the skills they learned in high school.
The school board is focusing on helping children from kindergarten to Grade 9 to meet or exceed expectations in writing and for more students to graduate with Grade 12 math or English. Their mission is to improve the options for when students graduate.
Doran has been teaching English at the UPEI for over 10 years. The school board wanting younger students to meet or exceed math and English is an excellent plan, he said.
“My experience as someone not from Prince Edward Island that came here to work has been that many of the Island students are behind their classmates from other provinces.”
In terms of basic skill level, many students from other provinces come in with ideas about writing structure already in place, specifically students from Ontario and Alberta, he said.
“They understand how an introduction functions. They are able to organize their thoughts into paragraphs a little more efficiently.”
Though many Island students are behind when they go into the English courses offered at the university, they usually catch up during their time at UPEI, he said.
“I tell them not to worry and not to panic. They will get there, it just might take a little longer.”
Horrocks said he would like to see more emphasis on math in the schools.
“I think we are seeing, over the last 10-15 years, students are coming in not quite as prepared mathematically.”
The students going in to the first-year calculus course struggle in trig functions and logarithm, which, in all fairness, are the hardest part, he said.
One solution would be more emphasis on basic skills in math instead of the advanced calculus they teach now in high school, he said.
“Teach them really the insides and outs of the trig functions and logs and exponentials and then maybe give them a hint of calculus.”
Education minister Alan McIsaac, said it’s crucial for a higher percentage of students to complete Grade 12 English and math.
“We did find that so many students were graduating with general math and English and we want more and more to go through the academic stream.”
Going through the academic stream will make it easier for students to further their education, he said.
“We want them to have the very best abilities they can at the level when they leave our system.”
Education is not just the responsibility of the teacher, the school, the school board, the department or the parent. It’s the responsibility of everyone in that group, he said.
“In education, it really does take the whole team.”