Witch 96: Root Con All

This is the fourth of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. Yeah, yeah it’s Douglas Adams-ish, but it wasn’t deliberate. We were undecided on this last one, and it’s not as compelling as the others. But, for similar reasons for the other WitCHes, we changed our mind and decided to post it. (There were other close calls, and we’ll soon update this post with brief comments on all the questions.)

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Witch 95: Top of the Pops

This is the third of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. Newcomer aps was first to comment on the error, in regard to VCAA’s webinar, where the same question is “solved” (and see the subsequent comments on that post). Once again, it seems worthwhile to encourage a prominent discussion on an unfamiliar topic, and there is more to say than has come up so far.

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Witch 94: What Are the Odds?

This is the second of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. It may not be quite bad enough for a WitCH, but it’s very not good. Our main reason for posting it is because we believe there is more in the question than might meet a teacher’s eye. As with our previous WitCH, this question is on a new topic, and some visible discussion seems worthwhile. Continue reading “Witch 94: What Are the Odds?”

Witch 93: Base Balls-Up

This is the first of three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. We spent a solid hour writing a critique of this one, and another half hour removing the bad language. Given the topic is new, however, and will be not so familiar to many teachers, we decided the question required more prominence, and proper discussion. The question was first flagged by commenter Michael, and the sample questions have been discussed generally on this post and this post. Continue reading “Witch 93: Base Balls-Up”

The Nature of Decolonising Mathematics

We have absolutely no time for this, but we feel obligated to write something. In their latest issue, the journal Nature – yes, that Nature – has a double-banger contribution to the “decolonization of mathematics”. To begin, there is an unsigned editorial, Why we have nothing to fear from the decolonization of mathematics. Then, the main event is a long article by “math and science writer“, Rachel Crowell, Charting a course to make maths truly universal. Both pieces are, of course, ridiculous. Continue reading “The Nature of Decolonising Mathematics”

New Cur 23: False Equivalence


The word “equivalent” is one of the most useful in mathematics and one of the most abused in mathematics education. The implication is that this one is not all ACARA’s fault. Nonetheless, the fact that it was predictable that ACARA would make a mess of it doesn’t alter the fact that ACARA made a mess of it. So, here we are. And a warning: this is a long post; there seemed no way around it.

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Education Experts Notice the Disintegrating Dyke, and Advocate More Fingers

Yesterday, the Grattan Institute released a report:

Tackling under-achievement: Why Australia should embed high-quality small-group tuition in schools

Great idea. While you’re at it, maybe give each kid their own pony. Continue reading “Education Experts Notice the Disintegrating Dyke, and Advocate More Fingers”

Selling Teachers Short

A few days a ago, an occasional commenter told us about the teacher shortage at their school. They suggested the shortage was going to “play havoc” with their teaching load. We’re not quite sure how that works, since we thought there were strong and weird restrictions on what could be demanded of teachers, but we’re not doubting the reality on the ground. Our teacher correspondent also offered tentative reasons for the shortage: boomer teachers retiring, both naturally and motivated by covid; little incentive for people become new teachers; new teachers not lasting.

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Into the Voigt of ChatGPT

So far, there have been about a million columns written on ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that was launched a couple months ago. About half a million of these columns have been devoted to predictions on ChatGPT’s implications for education, both in schools and universities. Many of the columns have been fearful, but a few are bright-eyed, talking up the Brave New Possibilities that ChatGPT will offer, and will demand. Continue reading “Into the Voigt of ChatGPT”

WitCH 92: The Webs VCAA Weaves

This is a continuation of a previous WitCH. To provide teachers with some guidance on the new VCE Specialist Mathematics curriculum (Word, idiots, and see comments here), VCAA had posted two webinars, on proof by contradiction and proof by induction; we WitCHed it. VCAA has now added four new webinars, which can be viewed here, and with companion documents as indicated below.

Get to work.

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