Elementary and high schools spend so much time on the content-laden curriculum that students are unprepared for the analytic and conceptual thinking they'll need at university
Has Ontario’s educational system taught a decade of students not to think? There is growing evidence that the combination of standardized testing with a content-intensive curriculum that’s too advanced – both introduced by the Conservative government between 1997 and 1999 – has done exactly that.
A dramatic indication that there could be a serious problem was the performance of my introductory physics class on their November test last year. It was identical to one given in 1996, but the class average over this 10-year period had plummeted from 66 to 50 percent. There is about a five-percent fluctuation in this test grade from year to year due to variation in student ability
and the difficulty of the questions but, when I looked at the class average over the many times I have taught the course since 1981, I found that four of the five lowest grades have occurred in the last four years, with the lowest this year. When I enquired elsewhere at Trent University, I found the same pattern in the mathematics department, where the first test in linear algebra was down some 15 percent from its historic mean, and the calculus average had dropped nine percent from the year before.