Take a leaf from the Canadian school's new curriculum

Last night my 16-year-old asked me “why do I need maths, and how is this preparing me for my future? I need to learn life skills and not subjects like maths”. I would have thought by now she can see the benefit of maths but I assume the way they get taught in the classroom may be the culprit of her conundrum. The issue is that maths is not taught in a way that is relevant to nor applicable to everyday scenarios. Students may find it hard to relate maths usefulness to their future encounters.

However, I was delighted to learn that the Education System in Canada has a new approach in teaching students crucial life skills and job skills.

The announcement, from the Minister of Education for Ontario, Stephen Lecce, is part of a four-year mathematics strategy. It is created with the intention to boost young people’s chances in the workplace in the future. Math lessons in schools across Canada’s most populous province will soon include a mandatory study of coding, data literacy, mathematical modeling, and also placing an emphasis on financial literacy. 

The modernized curriculum also sees concepts such as interest, debt, savings, personal budgeting, and price comparisons woven into maths lessons as part of an attempt to help young people manage their finances in later life. I am particularly interested in this announcement as I am familiar with this kind of approach from the time when I had created a Financial Literacy game, called Bamzonia, before working on Kai’s Clan. The game had some uptake in schools in both New Zealand and the UK as it helped teachers impart real-life skills that had underlying maths onto students, through teaching finances and taxes.

The Canadian Government hoped that the new curriculum will help address an achievement gap that is currently present and tear down the barriers that disadvantaged students face. Namely from historically marginalized groups, including Black and Indigenous students, those from low-income families, students with disabilities, and those with special educational needs.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the  World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 wrote in his report, “We find ourselves at a defining moment: the decisions and choices we make today will determine the course of entire generations’ lives and livelihoods.”

Similar to how Canadian schools are embracing a new era of mathematics curriculum our new KaiBot in Kainundrum has also caught the eye of several mathematicians and we are currently working with teachers to create a range of coding lessons that can be taught in the maths class. 

Our next challenge will be to familiarize teachers with coding and not feel overwhelmed when they need to include coding in the maths lesson. We’ve already got a pretty good idea on how we can achieve this. Starting with screen-free coding cards, how to use angles, directions, radius, etc will make it an integrated lesson that will enable students in their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

We are working with some amazing specialist, one of them, Rudy Neufeld from UMATHX who has written hundreds of maths lesson that is sold and delivered across the USA and Canada. 

In June 2020, Microsoft compiled a list of the most sought-after jobs, based on data from LinkedIn. That list shows the importance of tech-related skills and being comfortable with data. It includes roles like software developer, IT administrator, data analyst, and financial analyst.

At Kai’s Education, we firmly believe in cross-curricular learning. With Kai’s Clan, we blend 5 different environments, such as Mars, Amazon Warehouse, or a Smart City, with our lessons in order to engage students in learning how to code. A great resource and example of how it is done can be seen with EdgeUcating, where Alicia Verweij and Kerri Wilder have created an amazing playbook, including math lessons, for Kai’s Clan.

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