PoSWW 29: Cut Down in One’s Prime

As part of writing our WWW article, we forced ourselves, finally, to look at ACARA’s new Mathematics Curriculum. Jesus, it’s bad. Like village idiot bad.

We’ll start a post in the near future,* compiling the various nonsenses, new and old, and including aspects readers have already pointed out on this post. One new piece of stupidity, however, seems worthy of special mention.

The following is an elaboration in Year 6 Number:

using the definition of a prime number to explain why one is not a prime number

For the readers who have no clue what is expected, ACARA’s glossary** may be of some assistance:

Prime number: A natural number that is greater than 1 and its only factors are 1 and itself.

So it goes.


*) Regular readers will be aware of our use of the term “near future”.

**) Word, idiots.

30 Replies to “PoSWW 29: Cut Down in One’s Prime”

  1. As Randy Newman observed (“A Few Words in Defence of Our Country”, Harps and Angels, 2008), Pluto’s not a planet anymore either

      1. He was throwing an elbow at Clarence Thomas:

        You know, it pisses me off a little that this Supreme Court’s gonna outlive me
        Couple young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
        But I defy you, anywhere in the world, to find me two Italians as tight ass as the two Italians we got
        And as for the brother
        Well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore either

            1. And then he cancelled his Australia tour a couple years ago, the asshole. Simply because his hand fell off, or something.

  2. So the answer might be

    1 is not a prime number because 1 is not greater than 1

    … ?

    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen all year (but there’s still VCE maths exams to come in November …)

    Would it be beyond Grade 6 to ask/discuss \displaystyle why 1 is defined to not be a prime number …?

  3. Thanks for this Marty 😉
    At my age I rarely get a belly laugh.

    Perhaps to maintain sanity we should treat the curriculum as comedy. Black comedy.

    1. Definitely the former. It’s not just crap, it’s not just blatant crap, it’s new blatant crap that ACARA went out of their way to include and which remained even though there was allegedly proper consultation with mathematicians on the next-to-last draft.

      But I’m also proud of the title.

    1. Indeed, the Power of One.

      (I know comments like these infantalises this blog somewhat, but ACARA’s curriculum is one big infantalisation of mathematics education. So there’s a certain subtle metaphor).

        1. Except in this case, one must not do what two can do.

          I’m surprised ACARA didn’t include the following:
          “All prime numbers are odd except one” is wrong. All prime numbers are odd except two …

          We should give a lot of credit to the number 2. It became a prime number against all odds.

  4. The draft curriculum stated: “understanding that a prime number has two unique factors of one and itself and hence 1 is not a prime number”.

    1. Yes. That’s not great but it’s coherent. They then went out of their way to screw it up? Why? To make it appear more mathematical, to placate the mathematicians. But, since they have absolutely no sense of mathematics, they screwed it up.

          1. That was a weird read. I feel like they could have made the “one is a unit” discussion a lot more clear.

            At least to me, that’s the neatest way to see why it makes sense (beyond substantial convenience) to not have 1 as a prime.

  5. This is a bit off topic, but I’m studying (as an adult for my own interest) specialist maths for yr 12 in Victoria. I notice the ‘CAS’ (Common Algebra System) technology, which seems to be a specification for a standard calculator- (which pretty much has to be Texas Instruments).
    I get that you need a standardized calculator technology for instructing maths- but why can’t they just have a standard CAS App for Android/Apple thats free for everyone to download? Surely todays Androids and iphones and computer etc have more than enough power to work as scientific calculators- and then people dont have to go off and buy a private product.

    1. Hi, Dave. It’s an interesting question (in which I have no interest). Possibly it would be too difficult to police the other, Googlish aspects of phones.

    2. Lack of motivation, I guess. That and CAS is pretty cursed. Not many people want to develop a CAS app for free just to spread the love.

    3. CAS = \displaystyle Computer Algebra System.

      Using an App on a phone or computer would be problematic for reasons already mentioned. Plus, you have to have a phone (the assumption that everyone has one always irks me).

      Unfortunately, CAS in VCE mathematics is here to stay, for the foreseeable future. (Marty, don’t shoot the messenger). This being the case, it really makes me angry that VCAA stayed with the hand-held CAS calculators rather than software like Mathematica that is used outside of school (within universities, industry etc). No-one uses these CAS calculators outside of school. It’s a disgrace they are used in schools.

      VCAA totally bungled its Mathematica Pilot. The Pilot was bungled because the computer-based exams were totally bungled. (And good riddance to computer-based exams – nothing more than a cost-cutting measure). No wonder schools said a resounding no to Mathematica. Too much trouble. Except it’s not. The computer-based exams were gotten rid of (good riddance to bad rubbish) but the use of Mathematica in paper-based could have been retained. Even a luddite like me managed to competently use Mathematica.

      I’m no fan of CAS in school mathematics, but when there was a chance to at least adopt a CAS that was relevant outside of school, VCAA screwed up. Big time. I’d love to see some sort of enquiry into this. Or better yet, an objective, impartial enquiry into the use of CAS in school mathematics. (NOT education ‘experts’ with skin in the game giving their ‘expert’ opinions).

    4. By the way, congratulations on “studying (as an adult for my own interest) specialist maths for yr 12 in Victoria”. Let us know if you have any questions that you need help with. Or any VCAA crap you’re trying to get clarity on.

      (Me, I regularly go to the dentist for my own interest. Far less painful than what you’re doing).

  6. I love the prime definition it is a gift that keeps on giving.
    Eg Any even natural number greater than 2 is not a prime number.
    4 is not a prime number as it is even and greater than 2!

    1. Unfortunately, ACARA has lots of gifts that keep on giving. It’s a pity that its gifts cannot be returned for a full refund.

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