The Evil Mathologer is out of town and the Evil Teacher is behind on sending us our summer homework. So, we have time for some thumping and we’ll begin with the Crap Australian Curriculum Competition. (Readers are free to decide whether it’s the curriculum or the competition that is crap.) The competition is simple:

**Find the single worst line in the Australian Mathematics Curriculum.**

You can choose from either the K-10 Curriculum or the Senior Curriculum, and your line can be from the elaborations or the “general capabilities” or the “cross-curriculum priorities” or the glossary, anywhere. You can also refer to other parts of the Curriculum to indicate the awfulness of your chosen line, as long as the awfulness is specific. (“Worst line” does not equate to “worst aspect”, and of course the many sins of omission cannot be easily addressed.)

The (obviously subjective) “winner” will receive a signed copy of the *Dingo* book, pictured above. Prizes of the Evil Mathologer’s *QED* will also be awarded as the judges see fit.

Happy crap-hunting.

I would like a meet Pi for lunch. Hello Pi.

Um, is that in the curriculum?

Line: Mathematics has a central role in the development of numeracy

Location: on the numeracy page under numeracy in the learning areas

Why is it crap?

The Australian Curriculum defines numeracy as mathematics used in everyday life and states mathematics as the main teacher of it. This impacts the design of the mathematics curriculum to focus on facts and procedures rather than mathematical reasoning (just read all their content descriptions – the main proficiency strand that surfaces is fluency). This then impacts how mathematics is taught as teachers accountability is measured (in part but a decent part) by how students do in tests which are assess content from the curriculum. It then becomes increasingly burdensome for teacher to judge teaching mathematical reasoning skills (which are the other proficiencies: understanding, problem-solving and reasoning) and meeting obligations for students to do well in tests.

So while this line is not a mathematical blunder, it has profound impacts on the rest of the mathematics curriculum. That’s while I chose it to be the worst line.

Marti,

I would doubt this is the worst line in the glossary mentioned above but it s certainly incorrect

SKEWNESS the 3rd central moment

“…when the distribution of a set of data values is symmetric about the mean it is said to have a NORMAL distribution…??”

Gauss would object to this definition of the Normal I think

Symmetry is defined clearly here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symmetric_probability_distribution

Regards

Steve R

Agreed. This line really establishes one of the “rules” (which should never have been allowed) which then justify so much of the other crap that is allowed to flow freely in multiple AC publications. Will be hard to find something worse, but knowing the amount of crap out there, it may exist…

Thanks, Potii, Steve R and jrfitz66, and sorry to be slow to respond.

Potii and Steve R, they’re both great, awful lines. They’re also evidently awful in very different ways: the numeracy line opens the door to the systemic dilution and corruption of the mathematics curriculum by pointless, brain-boring pseudo-application; in contrast, the skewness line is isolated but starkly, moronically wrong. (Potii, we seem to disagree on whether a focus on “facts and procedures” is a positive or a negative, but that is a discussion for another post.)

Notably, neither line was quoted accurately and completely, and in each case the original line is worse. The numeracy line in the Curriculum reads:

The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics has a central role in the development of numeracy in a manner that is more explicit and foregrounded than is the case in other learning areas.That is stunningly bad writing, with bonus points for the needless and inaccurate use of the wanker word “foregrounded”.

The skewness line reads

When the distribution of values in a set of data is symmetrical about the mean, the data is said to have [a] normal distribution.This is careless and clunky, noting that Steve R has included the missing “a” and has corrected “symmetrical” to the mathematically (and universally) preferable “symmetric”. One could also more directly and clearly write “If the data is symmetric about its mean …”.

It is also worth pointing out another issue with this glossary entry, which begins

Skewness is a measure of asymmetry (non-symmetry) in a distribution of values about the mean of a set of data.This line is pretty much lifted from Wikipedia which, unlike the Glossary goes on to explain there are many related definitions of skewness. Stealing from Wikipedia is a little cheap though it would be ok,

exceptthat “skewness” means nothing of the sort in the Australian Curriculum. In the AC skewness is no more than a qualitative, shape-of-the-picture triviality; it is not in any sense of the word a measure.I think an over emphasis on facts and procedures at the expense of understanding and reasoning is not helpful. Like you said, it is better discussed in a different post.

Also, is more than one submission for worst line allowed? I guess one of the submissions will be the worst line but other lines could also be bad.

Sure, go for it. Just try to make each submission a separate comment, so that any subsequent discussions don’t get tangled.

From the glossary: “Data is a general term for information (observations and/or measurements) collected during any type of systematic investigation.”

Information is data that has been put in a context, while data is a set of values about a qualitative of quantitative variable. Data and information are related but are different, so the first part is just wrong.

Yep. Not on a par with the numeracy awfulness you flagged, but it’s lazy and dumb.