I’ve just graded the midterm for the first class I’ve taught as a university instructor. Unfortunately , a disconnect is developing, one that becomes more apparent everyday I teach and I’m stumped with how to clean up the pieces. I’m not a perfect teacher. I’m not a perfect educator, instructor, or lecturer. But, I’m more than eager to keep trying. I’m more than willing to attempt to create an exceptional learning environment for my university-level students. If that’s true, then what happened? On the first day of class, I told my students that I didn’t just want them to stay because the class was a requirement or a prerequisite. I wanted them to appreciate math in (m)any of the ways that I did. I wanted them to see its practicality and beauty. But, it seems that is not happening.

A failing average on a midterm, a drop-out rate of 33%, anxiety-ridden students- I’m missing the point. Yet, my supervisor is not surprised. Instead, he tells me that this pre-calculus class I’m teaching in university has the **highest drop-out rate **of any first-year mathematics course. That includes business/applied calculus, pure calculus, and linear algebra (read: new content). A 33% drop-out rate isn’t even at the average yet. I assume I’ll hit the coveted 40% by the end of the term. At first, I thought it was all my fault. I also thought that it being my fault is the worst possible scenario, but that’s not true. The worst possible scenario is that it isn’t my fault. I can fix myself. I can try harder, research longer, study further- be better. Attempt. Reflect. Repeat.

However, if the problem isn’t me, then it’s the class and the theoretical construct of this class. The scope, then, is much wider. It isn’t just 40% of *my *class that will leave this mathematics lecture hall more frustrated than when they got here. It’s 40% of every class. It’s 40% of all the students who have taken this class since it began, three years ago. So, what’s the next step forward?

I intend on carefully reviewing the material for the next half of the course. I want to continue to inspire them- at least try to. I’ll provide an extra credit assignment because I care less about grades and more about them understanding. I’ll do everything I can to help them succeed, with the recognition that they, too, need to work hard. I’ll work as hard and sometimes harder than them at creating an atmosphere that is conducive of learning. My biggest concern is that I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time to teach both thoroughly and quickly. I’ll continue to model the class how I’m expected to. After it’s all over though, I want to reexamine it again. I want to look back at these questions and find answers. I want to know if other instructors here have the same issues as I do. If they don’t, why? I want to know if other universities have the same troubling statistics. Is there a difference between students who attended schools in Canada and those who haven’t? Is there a difference in test scores since the WNCP took over secondary mathematics education in Canada? What are the trends? How do we begin to change it? A thousand tiny ripples.