The Origins of “Why Maths Must Change”

Many months ago, and many months too late, we submitted an FOI application, seeking documents from ACARA. We were interested in the origins of the statement Why Maths Must Change, signed onto by five prominent mathematics and mathematics education organisations in support of ACARA’s draft mathematics curriculum. We had previously written of our sea-bed low opinion of the statement, but we had also been puzzled by aspects of the statement. In particular, although WMMC has no declared link to ACARA, and although ACARA has to our knowledge never made any public reference to the statement, we had suspected that ACARA was involved in the production of WMMC.

Indeed, this appears to have been the case. Continue reading “The Origins of “Why Maths Must Change””

Science Fiction, Double Feature

No, we’re not intending to go into this. Our concern is with the parallel nonsense of indigenous mathematics, about which we’ll be writing in the near future. But this stuff has to be noted, and someone should be hammering it. Aren’t there some active scientists around who are just a little perturbed?

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ACARA Trolls Tudge

Well, ok, ACARA didn’t start it. But still, it’s funny.

Last week, on 25 November, the Centre for Independent Studies posted an “analysis paper”, Failing to teach the teacher: An analysis of mathematics Initial Teacher Education. By “CIS Research Fellow” Glenn Fahey and two guys from something called Shaping Minds, the paper hammers education faculties’ emphasis on constructivist methods at the expense of explicit teaching. The paper, which Greg Ashman discusses a little here, is spot on and underwhelming. Continue reading “ACARA Trolls Tudge”

Which is the Best ATSI Elaboration?

Are we trying to stir up trouble? No and, of course, yes. And yes. If we were really stirring up trouble, we’d be asking for the worst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elaboration. But yes, as with our previous competitions,1 the intention is to damn an aspect of the draft mathematics curriculum by making evident the faintness of the possible praise. Moreover, given that there is essentially no tradition of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mathematics, something has to be said about this aspect of the curriculum. We do so.2

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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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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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