You Will Memorize…….

The Globe and Mail reads this way this morning:

I’m disappointed.

Not by the requirement that kids will “have to” memorize their times tables in the fall, but rather by the belief that this is a means to fix what parents are angry about.

And I have several questions for Mr. Jeff Johnson….

1)  What happens with the kids who won’t have them memorized?  Just because you “require it” doesn’t mean every kid is suddenly going to develop the ability to do it.  And so what?  What happens when I fail to recite my times tables back to you like a trained monkey?  You certainly aren’t going to hold me back a grade because we just don’t do that any more.  So what does this “requirement” fix?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

2)  When will you follow suit and make learning the alphabet mandatory?  I’ve got kids in Grade 6 who are struggling readers.  Some of them are still having trouble with letter recognition.  So I’d like you to make learning the alphabet mandatory too please.  Maybe I should start a petition…….?

3)  What are you going to do when this band aid solution doesn’t meet with the demands of the public.  Sure, some of them are now going to go away.  The majority of the public who truly believe this is what they have been fighting for.  But what about the others?  The “pressure you are bending to” isn’t about multiplication tables and if you think you can placate the public with this move, I think you’re in for a surprise.

I think this was an interesting move.  Because really many elementary teachers are already doing this.  They may not all be doing mad minutes but they are all promoting the memorization of times tables in some way.  So I think this move was entirely political.  I’m going to get the public off my back by SAYING we will make this a requirement, even though secretly we know this really won’t change much of anything.  But it will appear we are working with the public.  Great.  Then when PISA scores do what they do and the public gets all antsy again you can throw your hands up and sluff off responsibility by saying, “But we made multiplication memorization MANDATORY!  What more do you want?”

Well Mr. Minister you had my respect for a moment.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  Let’s see what happens after the Leadership Race shall we?

My fellow educators, get ready to duck.  The pendulum has once again been set in motion.



About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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