What We Have Learned About Discovery Learning

141024_Mentor0028A recent story in the National Post cited a report by the Howe Institute that looked into the math skills of Canadian students. The study found that “Canadian students’ math skills have been on a decade-long decline because rote learning was replaced by discovery-based methods that promoted multiple strategies and estimations.”

Mentor College & TEAM School have long believed in traditional approaches to teaching and learning. At all grade levels of mathematics instruction, we emphasize the mastery of skills through proven methods. Studies like this one by the Howe Institute help to confirm what we have known for quite some time.

According to HS mathematics department head Mr. Sulpizi, discovery learning “has its place and time, but we don’t teach the entire curriculum this way. He adds, “if they don’t know their times tables, then how can they factor?” Grade 12 mathematics teacher Mr. Shapcott agrees – emphasizing that mathematics education has moved away from the basics, “we’ve gone too far in one direction…in order to think critically, students must first master the basic skills, not discover them.”