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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Tony Gardiner on Problem Solving

This is our final excerpt from Teaching Mathematics at Secondary Level Tony Gardiner’s 2016 commentary and guide to the English Mathematics Curriculum. (The first two excerpts are here and here.) It is a long and beautifully clear discussion of the nature of problem-solving, and its proper place in a mathematics curriculum (pp 63-73). (For Australia’s demonstration of improper placement, see here, here and here.)

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Tony Gardiner on Financial Mathematics

Our first excerpt from Tony Gardiner’s Teaching Mathematics at Secondary Level is here. Our second excerpt is a short remark on “financial mathematics” in a mathematics curriculum (p 75). The relevance to Australia’s draft curriculum is obvious.

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Tony Gardiner on Exactness and Approximation

It’s been a while. We’ve been trying hard to get out a long, long post on ACARA and the draft curriculum. (Working title: Moby Albatross). We also had a great WitCH planned, but that was torpedoed by Simon the Likeable. For now, we’ll keep readers occupied with some excerpts from the writing of Tony Gardiner.

Gardiner is an English icon, sort of a one-man AMT, but without the foot-shooting. Previously, we wrote about Gardiner’s and Alenxandre Borovik’s beautiful (and free) book, The Essence of Mathematics Through Elementary Problems. Then a few weeks ago, we posted a “puzzle” from Gardiner’s book, Teaching Mathematics at Secondary Level.

Written in 2016, TMSL is Gardiner’s commentary and guide to the English Mathematics Curriculum, with a particular focus early secondary school (Key Stage 3). Although framed around a specific curriculum, much of  TMSL is written from a more general perspective. In particular, Chapter 2.3 of  TMSL is on problem solving and the manner in which problem solving can fit, or misfit, in a mathematics curriculum. We shall excerpt this chapter in three posts, beginning with two short passages and concluding with the main content of the chapter. Our first excerpt is on the importance of exactness in a mathematics curriculum (pp 73-75).

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ACARA’s Terms of Reference

Does anybody ever properly read Terms of Reference? Probably not, and in the case of ACARA’s Terms of Reference for their curriculum review, this was a fatal error. The Education Minsters who approved ACARA’s ToR screwed up. Royally.

Below, we work through the ACARA’s Terms of Reference, section by section, highlighting critical aspects to the review of the mathematics curriculum. We’ll indicate how the ToR gave, and continues to give, ACARA license to consciously and to thoroughly ignore mathematicians, as well as education ministers. We shall also indicate how, nonetheless, ACARA have violated their own Terms of Reference whenever and however it suited ACARA’s real agenda.

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The Singapore Mathematics Syllabus

We’re working on a long ACARA post, which, hopefully, will be up in a day or so. In the meantime and as a bit of background for the coming post, readers may wish to have a wander through the Singaporean Primary Mathematics Syllabus.* (The syllabus begins with explanatory chapters, and the content description begins on page 34.)(Added 12/10/21 – The Secondary Syllabus 1-4 is here.)

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BiFF: Norm Macdonald and Pie Charts

We already had plans to start a new series of posts: Because it’s Funny. This was to begin with a different comedian, but Norm McDonald‘s dying kind of forced our hand. The characterisation “his cynicism was just a byproduct of his idealism” makes him our kind of guy. Below is a clip from Saturday Night Live. Continue reading “BiFF: Norm Macdonald and Pie Charts”


We’ve sat on this one for a long time. We weren’t sure what to make of it, and we’re still not sure. It seems appropriate to write on it, however, and inappropriate not to.

First, some background. Back in June-July, there was some minor but notable social media activity in the maths ed world; there was encouragement for people to make submissions on the draft curriculum to ACARA before the cut-off date. That’s fine, of course, even if they had been advocating to submit in support of (or in opposition to) the draft, which did not appear to be the case. It felt, however, that there was something coordinated about it all, which if true is still fine, but telling. As well, some such encouragement came from people tied to ACARA, which felt significantly closer to the line.

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