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.)
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.
It must be something in the water.
This one, with due credit to Bill and Melinda, will be appearing in plenty of right wing snicker-rags in the very near future. It’s really a PoSWW. However, given the previous (and much more important) post, we decided to make it a companion blivit-WitCH. (As well, we’re working on another post on this stuff, in defense of it.)
3. Creating Conditions to Thrive (zip file)
Whole Course (zip file)
OK, this is one of those blivit WitCHes. Yeah, sorry, but what are you gonna do? We don’t have the time (or the stomach) to give the stuff below the full-blown critique that it warrants, and there is a stormfront much closer to home. Given the thing has been brought to our attention, however, it also seems an error to not raise it on this blog. And so, here we are.
The inestimable Jo Boaler is one of the writers for the California mathematics curriculum review, and the proposed new “framework” is now up for public comment. The screenshots below are from youcubed‘s newsletter, and further below are links to individual chapters of the new framework (all also available here, along with other relevant material). Good luck.
CHAPTER LINKS (Word files, because making PDFs is apparently so damn hard)
(There’s also grade level brochures on this page, but, at posting, the links weren’t working.)
3. Number Sense
5. Data Science
Last week, the New South Wales government came out with the next great plan to Save Mathematics Education: make mathematics compulsory up until the end of high school. Why? According to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, this will “ensure students have the numeracy skills required to succeed in today’s society”.
What’s the source for this latest nonsense? Well, it’s kind of, sort of from the Interim Report of the NSW Curriculum Review, which was released a few days earlier, and which is prominent in the Government’s media release. Like all such reports, the NSW Report is barely readable, the predictable mishmosh of pseudoscience, unweighted survey, statistics of undeterminable worth and contradictory motherhoodisms. Thankfully, there’s no reason to read the Report, since the NSW Government hasn’t bothered to read it either; nothing in the Report points to making mathematics compulsory throughout high school.
Still, it was easy enough to find “maths experts” who “applauded the move”. Jordan Baker, the Sydney Morning Herald‘s education reporter, quoted four such “experts”, although the only expert appearing to say much of substance was doing anything but applauding. Greg Ashman, who is always worth reading (especially when he is needling nitwits), pointed to the need for specialist teachers in lower years. He is then quoted:
“You need to move away from the fashion for inquiry learning and problem-based learning and instead focus on high quality, interactive, explicit teaching of mathematics. Do that, and I believe numbers in year 12 would organically grow.”
In other words, if you stop having shit teachers teaching shit maths in a shit manner in lower years then maybe more kids will choose to stick around a little longer. (Ashman is more collegial than this writer.)
The NSW government’s compulsion will undoubtedly push mathematics in the exact opposite direction, into ever more directionless playing and mathematical trivia dressed up as real world saviour. You know the stuff: figuring out credit cards and, God help us, “how to choose cancer treatment“.
To illustrate the point perfectly, Melbourne’s Age has just published one of its fun exam-time pieces. Titled “Are you smarter than a 12th grader?“, the reader was challenged to solve the following problem from yesterday’s Further Mathematics exam:
A shop sells two types of discs: CDs and DVDs. CDs are sold for $7.00 each and DVDs are sold for $13.00 each. Bonnie bought a total of 16 discs for $178.00. How many DVDS did Bonnie buy?
The question this problem raises isn’t are you smarter than a 12th grader. The real question is, are you smart enough to realise that making mathematics compulsory to 12th grade will doom way too many students to doing 7th grade mathematics for six years in a row? For the NSW government and their cheer squad of “maths experts”, the answer appears to be “No”.
The Evil Mathologer is out of town and the Evil Teacher is behind on sending us our summer homework. So, we have time for some thumping and we’ll begin with the Crap Australian Curriculum Competition. (Readers are free to decide whether it’s the curriculum or the competition that is crap.) The competition is simple:
Find the single worst line in the Australian Mathematics Curriculum.
You can choose from either the K-10 Curriculum or the Senior Curriculum, and your line can be from the elaborations or the “general capabilities” or the “cross-curriculum priorities” or the glossary, anywhere. You can also refer to other parts of the Curriculum to indicate the awfulness of your chosen line, as long as the awfulness is specific. (“Worst line” does not equate to “worst aspect”, and of course the many sins of omission cannot be easily addressed.)
We’ve finally ended this. The winner is Potii. See here for details.