ACARA’s Response to AMSI’s Submission

On July 8, AMSI released its submission to ACARA, in which AMSI called for a halt of the mathematics curriculum review. On July 20, ACARA contacted AMSI, requesting a “consultation session” with AMSI, to enable ACARA “to address [AMSI’s] concerns”. That meeting was held on August 17. Prior to the meeting, ACARA forwarded to AMSI an agenda, together with a long document, Elaboration to Agenda Items. This Elaboration document amounted to a written response to AMSI’s submission, effectively a defense of ACARA’s draft mathematics curriculum.

The purpose of this post is to critique ACARA’s defense as presented in the Elaboration document. ACARA’s defense is extensive, and is astonishing in its nothingness. The self-indulgence of the Elaboration, its poverty of argument, its manipulativeness and special pleading, its level of plain falsehood, and its smug, unrelenting certainty, its unwillingness to offer any but the most trivial concession, is phenomenal.

We shall go through the Elaboration section by section. The analysis is necessarily long, since the Elaboration is classic Gish Gallop and demonstrating the Gish requires galloping alongside. Readers are advised to pour themselves a stiff drink and to get comfortable, with the bottle within easy reach; they might be here a while.

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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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The State of Such Things

A few days ago, the QEDcat received an email from a Victorian teacher, someone we don’t know and who, it seems, doesn’t follow this blog. The teacher and his colleagues had been discussing a rather weird exercise and he had wanted our opinion on the exercise. We were happy to oblige of course, and the issue turned out to be related to this screw-up. We also took the opportunity to suggest that the teacher’s choice was either to ask us or to ask the VCAA. The teacher replied,

Yep. One of the other teachers said we should check what vcaa say. But I actually want to know the correct answer.

Which is where we are.  A ratbag blogger is considered, correctly, to be a more reliable authority than the actual Authority.

How the Other Maths Lives

A few days ago, the Sydney Morning Herald had an article on “the hardest question” from this year’s NSW Extension 2 Exam. The question is worth 5 marks, which equates to 9 minutes of a 3 hour exam (accessible here). The question, and another question (6-ish minutes), which apparently came along for the ride, are posted below. Readers’ homework exercise is to Compare and Contrast. Continue reading “How the Other Maths Lives”

More Mathematics Books, Free to More Homes

UPDATE (25/11/21)

OK, all done. Thanks to those who expressed interest, and thanks in particular to MyCool, for playing the role of sweeper. Books will be handballed as arranged.

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Or the same homes. I couldn’t care less.

This pile of books is not nearly as extensive or as high quality as the last bunch, and I’m not going to work hard to find homes, or to deliver the books to the homes. Still there are some good books there for undergraduate maths and engineering folk, and a few classics. Continue reading “More Mathematics Books, Free to More Homes”

Tony Gardiner: ‘Problem-Solving’? Or Problem Solving?

The following is an article by Tony Gardiner, originally published in 1996 in the Mathematical Gazette. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Tony, the Chief Editor of the Mathematical Gazette and the Mathematical Association. The original article is available on JSTOR, here (via an educational library), and we’ve also separately posted the problems in Tony’s article here.

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Discussion: VCAA’s Blunt Implement

This is not one we’ve had time to look at but it seems important. We don’t intend to comment but we’re providing this post as a forum for discussion.

In November last year, VCAA released its draft of the new mathematics study design, to begin in 2023.  The draft is no longer linked on VCAA’s website, but we wrote about the draft here, here and here. The current study design, ostensibly in operation until the end of 2022, is here. Continue reading “Discussion: VCAA’s Blunt Implement”

NotCH 4: Five Problems From Tony Gardiner

We have written about Tony Gardiner and excerpted from his writings a number of times: here, here, here, here and here. We will post an entire article by Tony in a day or so, but we are first posting the problems contained within the article. Unlike the “problem” here, the problems below are genuinely presented by Tony to puzzle over, and are only loosely tied to the text of the article. Have fun. Continue reading “NotCH 4: Five Problems From Tony Gardiner”

Further Exams and Further Errors

By overwhelming demand,* we have decided, much belatedly, to put up a post for discussion of the 2021 Further Mathematics exams. We have no particular plans to update this post, although we will do so if anything of interest arises. We’ll just note the two excerpts below, from Exam 2, the first of which is discussed here, at 5:30. Thanks to Simon and SRK to bringing these to our attention.**

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