PoSWW 34: Not Working in Parallel

This PoSWW is a group effort, on one of the sub-topics in VCAA’s current curriculum:

parallel and perpendicular vectors

There is minimal guidance in the Study Design on what the sub-topic is intended to cover and, in particular, no definitions of “parallel vector” and “perpendicular vector” are provided. Our specific concern is the role of the zero vector.*

Below are definitions and implied definitions from three current Year 12 VCE Specialist Mathematics textbooks. We have attempted to be as fair as possible, for each text selecting the clearest definitions/descriptions we could locate.

*) One might be inclined to argue that this is a minor concern. For those thus inclined, we’ll address the argument soon with a new WitCH.

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ACARA Didn’t Expect the Sydney Inquisition

Catholics Schools NSW has begun some serious interrogation of ACARA. Led by CEO Dallas McInerney, their chief weapon is sense, and truth. Their two weapons are sense and truth, and intelligence. Their three weapons are sense and truth and intelligence, and a pastoral ethic. Amongst their weapons are … Continue reading “ACARA Didn’t Expect the Sydney Inquisition”

VCAA’s 2022 Exam Reports Are Up

Sorry, no energy for a joke title. The reports are here (Word, idiots):

Specialist Exam 1 report (and exam)

Specialist Exam 2 report (and exam)

Methods Exam 1 report (and exam)

Methods Exam 2 Report (and exam)

For background, readers may wish to go to the following blog posts:

Specialist Error List (and see here, here, here, here, here and here)

Methods Error List (and see here and here)

We’ll update the various posts soon(ish).

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Witch 96: Root Con All

This is the fourth of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. Yeah, yeah it’s Douglas Adams-ish, but it wasn’t deliberate. We were undecided on this last one, and it’s not as compelling as the others. But, for similar reasons for the other WitCHes, we changed our mind and decided to post it. (There were other close calls, and we’ll soon update this post with brief comments on all the questions.)

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Witch 95: Top of the Pops

This is the third of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. Newcomer aps was first to comment on the error, in regard to VCAA’s webinar, where the same question is “solved” (and see the subsequent comments on that post). Once again, it seems worthwhile to encourage a prominent discussion on an unfamiliar topic, and there is more to say than has come up so far.

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Witch 94: What Are the Odds?

This is the second of our three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. It may not be quite bad enough for a WitCH, but it’s very not good. Our main reason for posting it is because we believe there is more in the question than might meet a teacher’s eye. As with our previous WitCH, this question is on a new topic, and some visible discussion seems worthwhile. Continue reading “Witch 94: What Are the Odds?”

Witch 93: Base Balls-Up

This is the first of three WitCHes on VCAA’s Specialist Mathematics Exam 1 Sample Questions. We spent a solid hour writing a critique of this one, and another half hour removing the bad language. Given the topic is new, however, and will be not so familiar to many teachers, we decided the question required more prominence, and proper discussion. The question was first flagged by commenter Michael, and the sample questions have been discussed generally on this post and this post. Continue reading “Witch 93: Base Balls-Up”

The Nature of Decolonising Mathematics

We have absolutely no time for this, but we feel obligated to write something. In their latest issue, the journal Nature – yes, that Nature – has a double-banger contribution to the “decolonization of mathematics”. To begin, there is an unsigned editorial, Why we have nothing to fear from the decolonization of mathematics. Then, the main event is a long article by “math and science writer“, Rachel Crowell, Charting a course to make maths truly universal. Both pieces are, of course, ridiculous. Continue reading “The Nature of Decolonising Mathematics”

New Cur 23: False Equivalence


The word “equivalent” is one of the most useful in mathematics and one of the most abused in mathematics education. The implication is that this one is not all ACARA’s fault. Nonetheless, the fact that it was predictable that ACARA would make a mess of it doesn’t alter the fact that ACARA made a mess of it. So, here we are. And a warning: this is a long post; there seemed no way around it.

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