New Cur 3: ACARA’s Not an Option

“Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.”

“Yeah, I know. And such small portions.”

“And they won’t even serve it to us.”

Yep, ACARA is even worse than Woody Allen’s Catskills resort. This charmingly insidious aspect of ACARA’s appalling mathematics curriculum was pointed out to me by blog-commenter Storyteller, while discussing my Cones Don’t Exist post.

Regular readers will be aware that the 10A material in the current curriculum has been replaced by the new Optional Year 10 material (Word, idiots). It was never clear to me the reason for this switch, and I expressed my puzzlement when ACARA gratuitously raised the matter in their arrogant response to AMSI. What has always been clear is that the optional Year 10 material is terrible, and that the portions are so small. Storyteller discovered that this terrible and tiny optional year 10 material is also almost impossible to find, and is framed with hilariously insidious messaging.

Even finding the F-10 mathematics curriculum is no gimme; ACARA’s front page for their sparkling new curriculum is an AFL-esque jungle of Who Really Cares cul-de-sacs. There is no dedicated link/page for the F-10 curriculum, which is absurd. But, we’ll get there.

Clicking the F-10 Curriculum tab on the front page triggers a drop-down menu, in which the reader can select the Learning area(s), and then select the Subject and Year level(s). And that can get us to the mathematics curriculum? Well, no, not quite.

Before being granted access to the curriculum, the reader is confronted – every bloody time – with an Understand this learning area window. We’ll explore that route later, but for now we click away the window and, finally, we have before us the mathematics curriculum. And that’s when we discover what Storyteller discovered: there is absolutely no sign of the optional year 10 material.

Yes, really. It just ain’t there. Of course it is possible get to the optional Year 10 material. If you know exactly where to look.

The Year 10 curriculum contains twenty-one content descriptions. The descriptions can be clicked to “explore” the content, and exactly seven of the twenty-one explorations reveal, after non-trivial scrolling, a link to ACARA’s page on the optional Year 10 content. This page, as far as I can tell, is accessible by no other means; I could find no other hint, anywhere, that this page exists.

To be fair, it is possible to get to the optional Year 10 material by other paths. Remember that Understand this learning area window? That’ll get you there. As long as you think to first scroll through 2,479 words to get there. Watch out for the leopard.

Storyteller also noted the manner in which the optional Year 10 content is introduced:

In Year 10, students also consider possible pathways to study senior secondary Mathematics.

Preparation for subsequent study of subjects based on ACARA’s Mathematical Methods Units 1 and 2 can be supported by further development of aspects of mathematics from Year 10. This provides a basis for building understanding that underpins these and equivalent courses of study.

The implication of the first sentence, the idea that students – and teachers and parents – only “consider” senior mathematics once in Year 10 is so insane, is so counter to reality, it is impossible to imagine that anyone who has ever taught mathematics anywhere can imagine it to be true. It is unclear whether ACARA is consciously lying, or whether their hold on reality is simply that tenuous.

Storyteller’s focus was on ACARA’s second paragraph. The point is, ACARA explicitly acknowledges their F-10 curriculum is insufficient preparation for anything but garbage mathematics at the senior level.

Evidently, ACARA simply does not care if anybody learns mathematics, and seemingly would prefer that they didn’t.

UPDATE (29/11/22)

We’ve slightly modified the title to fit in with our New Cur series.

12 Replies to “New Cur 3: ACARA’s Not an Option”

      1. It is my understanding that schools could offer 10A as a subject.

        Why or how I do not know but I have met teachers who told me that they used to “teach 10A”.

        Not all government school teachers either.

        1. Students can be offered a 10FISH subject, and the name would make no difference. Obviously schools offer all manner of Year 10 (and Year 7 and Year 8 and Year 9) subjects.

          1. Yes and no.

            Schools are expected to teach the “curriculum” and so are expected to offer “Year 10 Mathematics”. 10A is/was considered to some extent a different subject, something of a pre-Methods course that could be selected by students.

            So the name is only important if it is seen internally and externally to be something different. As to how effective such an offering is/was… I have no comment.

            1. Do you think ACARA’s switch from 10A to Optional 10 will have any effect on the number and nature of “other” year 10 subjects offered? I don’t see it.

              1. None whatsoever. Terry asked a question, I tried to answer.

                I’m in no way trying to defend the existence of a two-paced Year 10 curriculum design. Some of the 10A material was present in previous versions of the Specialist 1&2 study design (geometric proof, circle theorems etc) but sadly that too seems to be on the way out…

                …except in NSW.

  1. The NSW 2024 (draft) 7-10 mathematics now has a whole range of explicitly designated options topics in Years 9 and 10 labelled “Standard Pathway” and “Advanced Pathway” to show these topics lead to Year 11 & Year 12 Maths Standard and Maths Advanced (and hence not really optional for most!) So teachers, students and parents are left on no doubt they form prerequisites for senior maths.

    1. Thanks, Nordin. NSW seems way, way saner than any other State. (Eduction-wise. Dominic and his buddies are obviously lunatics.)

  2. Perish the thought that we’d have a clear

    “Standard Pathway” and “Advanced Pathway”

    so that “students and parents are left on no doubt they form prerequisites for senior maths.”

    The woke brigade would be popping a vein – such language is non-inclusive, promotes the old colloquialism of the ‘Vegie’ pathway etc. It’s much better to avoid any clarity in the ACARA curriculum and have a Vegie national curriculum for everyone. It’s so much more inclusive (*).

    * And, to be brutally candid, given where education is heading (arrived?) in Victoria, it’s probably about as advanced as many of the teachers who will be teaching it can handle.

  3. It has been apparent for quite some time that the Australian curriculum mathematics R-10 is designed to get students ready to study General Mathematics in year 11 and only weird and strange students consider Maths Methods. They are just making this more obvious.
    Algebra is not really a part of numeracy, and the whole reason for teaching R-12 mathematics is to teach numeracy.
    But when do students learn the mathematics they need to tackle Methods?

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