WitCH 61: Wheel of Misfortune

We decided ACARA’s psychedelic circle, which we discussed briefly here, was worthy of its own post. So, apart from the potential to trigger an epileptic fit, what is wrong with ACARA’s wheel?

ACARA labels their wheel as depicting

[the] relationship between the six strands and three core concept organisers

The six strands make up the inner wheel, and are explained here (pages 4-5). The three “core concept organisers” are the three colours on the wheel rim, with the categories and subcategories as pictured below, and which are explained here (pages 5-8).

23 Replies to “WitCH 61: Wheel of Misfortune”

  1. So…. mathematics is something different in the middle? Algebra is not mathematics anymore?

    WTF are the outer counter-clockwise rotation arrows supposed to mean.

    This is the kind of diagram that I would typically ignore…

    1. The way I read it is that school mathematics is divided into six disjoint strands. Putting them all inside one circle is too challenging for the graphic designer. So the strands are depicted as breakouts. (I have picked up some jargon in recent years.)

      The counter-clockwise rotation arrows depict the sub-strands listed above.

      I think that “mathematising” means applying mathematics.

  2. So, if I go to The Mallow and order an IPA instead of a sour then I am making a choice. Does that mean I am doing ‘mathematising’ and therefore maths? Can I quit now?

  3. “Mathematising” …. wtf?

    Here is the clearest definition I could find: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/mathematising

    A further internet search shows it’s just another bullshit buzz-word coined and then adopted by idiot ‘education’ researchers so that they sound like they’ve hit on something new.

    Clearly some marketing agency was paid a huge sum of money to come up with that chicken vomit pizza.

  4. I don’t know what you’re complaining about: it’s colourful, entirely within the modern paradigm for descriptive graphics (and believe me, I’ve read through more strategic plans than is reasonable for my mental health), puts all the areas of mathematics as they are understood by ACARA together… what’s not to like?

    There is the small business of it being completely meaningless, but that’s never stopped anybody before. It is certainly buzzword compliant, but the worst of it is that it demonstrates ACARA’s utterly intellectually bereft notion of “mathematics” that has no intersection with the discipline which has been one of the crowning glories of the human mind.

    What is abundantly clear is that ACARA doesn’t actually know what mathematics is, what students should be taught, and what skills students should attain at the completion of their studies. Those of us that teach at universities know that students are woefully ill-prepared for anything remotely rigorous; they believe mathematics to be simply a collection of random and unconnected tricks to “solve” various uninteresting and unconnected problems.

    Somewhere along the line somebody, or a committee, got hold of the notion that as mathematics can be used to solve “problems”, then “problem solving” should be the ultimate goal. And indeed the mantra of problem solving casts an unhealthy eldritch light over the entire K-12 syllabus. But a glance at any textbook will reveal that the problems are so contrived as to be pointless, and in fact students in general are completely unable to go beyond the tricks of their textbooks.

    The thing is, to do mathematics well at almost any level requires sustained intellectual endeavour. Whether you’re a first grader learning how to count, or a postgraduate student wrestling with partial differential equations, there is no getting away from the work involved. But ACARA are being intellectually dishonest by trying to hide this fact – and the concomitant fact that drill-and-practice have a major part to play in learning. No no, it’s all colours, “problem solving”, and the modern empty hole of school mathematics.


      1. Indeed. But unfortunately one gets the impression that ACARA, VCAA, et al. have been presented with that view before – and perhaps no less forcefully and eloquently – but it’s water off a duck’s back.

    1. Beautifully skewered Mr Annoyed

      The diagram reminds me of my first day at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Western Australia, January 1984. Boss Steve showed me the day’s mail. It consisted of a letter from a devotee of various forms of energy and showed the interaction of these by connecting coloured circles. Steve explained that WA had a population of helpful nutters who favoured the use of circles to explain their enlightenment. The ACARA effort has colours, and 4 concentric circles, but even less enlightenment.

  5. After reading this I think I know the perfect slogan for ACARA’s new mathematics program

    “Mathematise today Australia! I am maths and so can you!”

      1. Bring in Scotty from marketing. The wisdom of Scotty:

        We all want to get there, it is not about the mathematics anymore, it is about the technology.

        I can’t comment on a curriculum that is done through an independent process that hasn’t been announced or I have no official knowledge of those things.

        I know they will be some in education today asking ‘why is this necessary? There is only one case’. Well, this isn’t any ordinary case. This is a very special case and one that requires us to treat things quite differently.

        Follow up tests confirmed that there is no mathematics present, just a false positive on certain mathematics tests. There is no possibility the curriculum causes learning.

        It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis, the ACARA should be utterly ashamed of this curriculum. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.

        I would expect it to be as mandatory as you could possibly make it.

        No one is going to force anybody to teach anything as a compulsory measure, but we certainly will encourage people to take this up, everybody needs to understand what we are trying to achieve here.

        I don’t know what people have been teaching all these months, it’s very exciting, the world will be switching on, the ACARA can take over.

        There has been a lot of blame being thrown around, and now is the time to focus on the response that is being made. … Blame doesn’t help anybody at this time and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise.

        If there are issues regarding particular curricula, they will be raised in the normal way that they should be in a democracy, and they are matters I am always open to discuss.

        A stronger curriculum where people have the confidence to teach more, to learn more, to invent more, to work hard.

        No, no. What this is is a recognition of the growing threat of extremist mathematics in so many different terms.

        I was appalled and shocked, i think any Australian would be to read of this curriculum, but it shows that no one is above the mathematics in this country.

        What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.
        We are committed to all of these things, but I will tell you what we are also committed to — kids should go to school.

        It’s not a joke, it’s not funny, you’re putting the education of hard-working Australians at risk and you’re scaring children. You’re a coward and you’re a grub and if you do that sort of thing in this country we will come after you.

  6. You lucky bastards! In Germany we’ve got only five areas: L1 (number), L2 (measurement), L3 (space and form), L4 (functional connection), and L5 (data and probability). L stands for Leitidee (governing idea). Algebra is not needed since it doesn’t have any immediate applications. All of my grade 10 students are able to extract the square root of a^2 + b^2 (it is a + b), and none is able to evaluate (a+b)^2 correctly, except in fields of characteristic 2. This is what happens after 25 years of Leitideen and competences.
    Today I gave the Singapore-grade-6 exercise on the fraction nearest to 2/3 to my grade-11 students as the last problem of an exam. 10 got it right, 7 didnt. And I put the blame on every teacher who doesn’t remember how she learned dealing with fractions when she was in grade 6.

    1. That’s really interesting. Because when I was teaching at uni in Germany, I always had extremely well-prepared students fresh out of high school.

      1. When was that? The reforms began to hit the curriculum with the graduates of 2004. In 2010, the last school year was dropped along with the sorry remains of what was left in algebra and Euclidean geometry. In addition, the decline in he East was slower than in the West.

        1. It was ’07 in Berlin (FU) and ’10 ’11 in Magdeburg (former East). The kids seemed very strong compared to what I was used to.

          It is a real shame if it has indeed been lost.

  7. My submission to ACARA is almost finished. I have enjoyed writing this, even though I realise that it will not have any effect.

    A major question is: How will we assess whether these changes succeed or fail?

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