(With apologies to the brilliant Laurie Anderson. Sane people should skip straight to today’s fish, below.)

*I met this guy – and he looked like he might have been a math trick jerk at the hell brink.
Which, in fact, he turned out to be.
And I said: Oh boy.
Right again.*

*Let X=X.**You know, that it’s for you.
It’s a blue sky curriculum.
Parasites are out tonight.
Let X=X.*

*You know, I could write a book.
And this book would be thick enough to stun an ox.
Cause I can see the future and it’s a place – about a thousand miles from here.
Where it’s brighter.
Linger on over here.
Got the time?*

*Let X=X.**I got this postcard.
And it read, it said: Dear Amigo – Dear Partner.
Listen, uh – I just want to say thanks.
So…thanks.
Thanks for all your patience.
Thanks for introducing me to the chaff.
Thanks for showing me the feedbag.
Thanks for going all out.
Thanks for showing me your amiss, barmy life and uh
Thanks for letting me be part of your caste.
Hug and kisses.
XXXXOOOO.*

*Oh yeah, P.S. I – feel – feel like – I am – in a burning building – and I gotta go.*

*Cause I – I feel – feel like – I am – in a burning building – and I gotta go.*

OK, yes, we’re a little punch drunk. And drunk drunk. Deal with it.

Today’s fish is Year 7 Algebra. We have restricted ourselves to the content-elaboration combo dealing with abstract algebraic expressions. We have also included an omission from the current curriculum, together with the offical justification for that omission.

**LEVEL DESCRIPTION **

**As students engage in learning mathematics in Year 7 they … explore the use of algebraic expressions and formulas using conventions, notations, symbols and pronumerals as well as natural language.**

**CONTENT **

**create algebraic expressions using constants, variables, operations and brackets. Interpret and factorise these expressions, applying the associative, commutative, identity and distributive laws as applicable**

**ELABORATIONS**

**generalising arithmetic expressions to algebraic expressions involving constants, variables, operations and brackets, for example, 7 + 7+ 7 = 3 × 7 and 𝑥 + 𝑥 + 𝑥 = 3 × 𝑥 and this is also written concisely as 3𝑥 with implied multiplication**

**applying the associative, commutative and distributive laws to algebraic expressions involving positive and negative constants, variables, operations and brackets to solve equations from situations involving linear relationships **

**exploring how cultural expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples such as storytelling communicate mathematical relationships which can be represented as mathematical expressions**

**exploring the concept of variable as something that can change in value the relationships between variables, and investigating its application to processes on-Country/Place including changes in the seasons **

**OMISSION**

**Solving simple linear equations**

**JUSTIFICATION**

**Focus in Year 7 is familiarity with variables and relationships. Solving linear equations is covered in Year 8 when students are better prepared to deal with the connections between numerical, graphical and symbolic forms of relationships.**

*I – feel – feel like – I am – in a burning building*

“exploring the concept of variable as something that can change in value the relationships between variables, and investigating its application to processes on-Country/Place including changes in the seasons”

What are they trying to say?

Why assume they are trying to say anything?

Because “they” wrote something which “they” clearly intend “someone” to read and potentially a bunch of “someones” will then write a pile of books with “2023 New Study Design” on the cover and charge about $100 for it, which works out to be a bargain at about 30 cents per error based on previous experiences.

Another bunch of “them” will then instruct teachers to “report student achievement against these standards” in a way which is “easy for parents to read and understand”.

We’ve seen this stage show before. As a circus it lacks acrobatic skill and has far too many clowns.

Okay, I’m not a mathematician, but I am in favor of Real Education, so …

I can see that “exploring the concept of variable as something that can change in value the relationships between variables, and investigating its application to processes on-Country/Place including changes in the seasons” doesn’t make sense, and

I can smile at the bow to the “all cutures are equal” religious dogma (except the wicked one that developed 99% of mathematics) … but is anything else wrong here?

Thanks, Doug. The excerpt may seem benign, but it is arguably the single worst aspect of the draft curriculum. (The multiplication tables lunacy offers tough competition.)

To begin, I agree, we should tiptoe around the patronising Aboriginal stuff, which is plenty silly but not the point. So, we’ll just pretend the final two elaborations aren’t there.

The main point of this post is not the awfulness that is there, but the awfulness of the omission. The current Curriculum has:

Solve simple linear equationsThat is gone, or all but gone, and that is criminal. An understanding of the “simple” equations ax + b = c and a/c = c/d is absolutely critical to *everything* in secondary school mathematics, and that means that there are only two meaningful tasks for a Year 7 teacher: 1) Fix up all the arithmetic skills that the kids were supposed to get in primary school and didn’t; 2) Use these arithmetic skills to hammer the meaning of and skill with these equations. Everything else can take a seat and wait.

Now it’s true that “solve equations” is there, kind of, in the second elaboration. But it’s not really there. First of all it’s not there because the companion document

saysit’s not there; it’s Year 8 stuff, for “when students are better prepared”. Secondly it’s not there because of the key, insidious, word “situations”. What this means is that, maybe, you’ll have a couple token questions: Johny had $20 and bought six bananas at $2 each …That’s the motivation for this post. I could also hammer the pointless, pompous and tedious language. But that’d be like criticising Hitler for having a bad moustache.

In Year 12 Further Mathematics – which is the most popular Year 12 mathematics subject in Victoria, and now acceptable for entry to engineering at several universities – students can use a CAS calculator for both final examinations. Consequently this would be true in Year 11 General Mathematics which leads naturally to Further Mathematics.

So why would a student in Year 11 General Mathematics need to be able to solve any equation without a CAS calculator?

I guess it’s a question of whether you want them to know what an equation is and how it works.

I recommend Gelfand, I. M. & Shen, A. (1993). Algebra. Birkhauser.