AMSI Calls for a Halt of the Mathematics Curriculum Review

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute has finalised and released its submission for ACARA’s consultation on their draft mathematics curriculum. For eccentric reasons, we haven’t properly read AMSI’s submission. (Seriously.) We understand that it is a good and strong statement. The second and key paragraph is

In early April, AMSI, together with some of its key partners, released a joint statement on the proposed new curriculum “Why maths must change”. AMSI initially endorsed the revised draft curriculum in our joint statement. However, there is now an opportunity to comment on the draft curriculum, and we have revised our position, following extensive consultation with representatives of our member organisations. Many members expressed concern, and indeed alarm, at numerous proposed changes. AMSI and its members believe that the new curriculum should be delayed, and we ask ACARA to halt the current review process.

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The ACARA Page

Honestly, it wasn’t our intention to write three hundred posts on ACARA and their appalling draft mathematics curriculum. But, we did. Given that we did, it seems worthwhile having a pinned metapost, so that anybody who wants to can find their way through the jungle. (There’s probably a better way to do this, with a separate blog page or whatever, but we can’t be bothered figuring that out right now.)

So, here we are: the complete works, roughly in reverse chronological order, and laid out as clearly as we can think to do it. It includes older posts and articles, on the current mathematics curriculum (which also sucks) and NAPLAN (which also also sucks).

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ACARA CRASH 17: Algebraic Fractures

The following are Year 10 Number-Algebra content-elaborations in the current curriculum:

CONTENT

Apply the four operations to simple algebraic fractions with numerical denominators

ELABORATIONS

expressing the sum and difference of algebraic fractions with a common denominator

using the index laws to simplify products and quotients of algebraic fractions

CONTENT

Solve linear equations involving simple algebraic fractions

ELABORATIONS

solving a wide range of linear equations, including those involving one or two simple algebraic fractions, and checking solutions by substitution

representing word problems, including those involving fractions, as equations and solving them to answer the question

And what does the draft curriculum do with these?

Removed

And, why?

Not essential for all students to learn in Year 10.

God only knows how one develops fluency with expressions that cease to exist.

RatS 14: Jen Deyzel on The Great Decline

Jen Deyzel is a retired primary school teacher, a “septuagenarian” (now octogenarian) with decades of experience. She came up in conversation with a parent, whose children are tutored by Jen. In 2017, Jen wrote an essay on the decline of Australia’s educational standards. Jen has kindly permitted us to reproduce her essay, below (and in PDF form here).

The Great Decline:

Why Australia’s Education Standards are Plummeting Fast

Jen Deyzel

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A Gentle Word to Sydneysiders During Your Troubled Times

Dear Sydneysiders,

I know it’s hard right now. The future is uncertain, and you’re doing it tough. You’re going it alone, and you’re not sure how it’s going. So, here’s a gentle word of advice from a Melburnian who’s been through it: go the fuck home and shut the fuck up.

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ACARA CRASH 16: Unlevel Playing Field

Each Year’s content in the draft curriculum begins with a Level description, and each of the thirteen Level description begins with the exact same sentences:

The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics focuses on the development of a deep knowledge and conceptual understanding of mathematical structures and fluency with procedures. Students learn through the approaches for working mathematically, including modelling, investigation, experimentation and problem solving, all underpinned by the different forms of mathematical reasoning. [emphasis added]

Yep, “an equal focus on building fluency“, no doubt about it.

 

And the Winner Is …

Definitely not Sydeney.

OK, in a futile attempt to unPonzi our blogging scheme, we’re closing off our four competitions.* The winners are indicated below, and any winner who has not died of old age should  email us to receive their prize, a signed copy of the best-selling** A Dingo Ate My Math Book.***

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ACARA CRASH 15: Digital Insertion

Continuing to try to rid ourselves of ACARA irritants, the following are the “calculator” elaborations from Year 1 – Year 6 Number and Algebra (sic):

YEAR 1

using the constant function on a calculator to add ten to single digit numbers, recording the numbers to make, show and explore the patterns in a 0 – 100 chart

with the use of a calculator, exploring skip-counting sequences that start from different numbers, discussing patterns

modeling skip counting sequences using the constant function on a calculator, while saying, reading and recording the numbers as they go

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RatS 13: In Defense of Craig Kelly

That got your attention, didn’t it?

And, having tabloided you here, we confess we’re not gonna defend Craig Kelly. The man is a dangerous idiot. We will, however, defend the right of Kelly and his dangerously idiotic comrades to spout their dangerous idiocy. It pains us to write this, coming straight after anti-lockdown and anti-vax neanderthals flooded Australia’s, and the World’s, streets. Fuck these morons. But, the idea that censorship is an effective way to counter such group moronicity is insane.

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PoSWW 18: Inestimable Worth

We’ve whacked Essential Assessment on a previous occasion. Our daughter, who is in Year 4, did some of this nonsense on the week-end. (Our general policy is to let our daughter’s school do its thing, give or take a staged frown and raised eyebrow, and the occasional nudge of the well-meaning and intelligent Principal, but to forbid techno-junk at home. But, with home schooling, and our daughter’s understandable desire to please the beleaguered teacher, we let it go this time.)

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Does There Exist a Sensible Australian Maths Ed Academic?

Yes, the question is rhetorical, but it is not just rhetorical.

A couple months ago, Greg Ashman asked Twitter a more specific version of this question:

[W]ho are the education academics in Australia who specialise in mathematics teaching and who advocate for explicit teaching, times tables etc.?

Ashman has a decently large following, but the replies to his question were tellingly non-existent. The only specific people suggested were the very non-Australian Jim Milgram, a hard core Stanford mathematician who took time off to wallop Jo Boaler, and Stephen Norton, a Griffith University education academic who appears solid and thoughtful, and barely visible. Anyone else?

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