Maths Anxiety Is Still Not a Thing

I’m late to this. Things have been busy, and not good. Still, the work goes on and this has to be done.

Last week, The Centre For Independent Studies came out with yet another “Analysis Paper”: Facing Up to Maths Anxiety. The paper is by “eminent professor David C Geary” and was launched with the standard fanfare, including a Canberra Times op ed by Geary and a companion ABC article by CIS’s Lead Education Pontificator, Glenn Fahey. Continue reading “Maths Anxiety Is Still Not a Thing”

Education Pundits, and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Earlier this week, Ben Jensen‘s Learning First released a report on Australia’s science curriculum. Their report was strong, with a clear and simple message: the science curriculum has too little science, too incoherently presented. The reporting on Learning First’s research was very good. The punditry was not. Continue reading “Education Pundits, and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

Belabouring the Real World

Bridget Phillipson is UK Labour’s shadow minister for education. She is proposing a new program, “phonics for maths”, which sounds like a good thing. Countering Rishi Rich’s idiotic demand that everyone study mathematics until they’re 50, Phillipson gave a speech a few days ago, with a decent chunk on primary school mathematics:

“Maths is the language of the universe, the underpinning of our collective understanding. It cannot be left till the last years of school.”

“… it’s why I’m proud to tell you today, that we’ll tackle our chronic cultural problem with maths, by making sure it’s better taught at six, never mind 16.”

Great. And how is Labour to do this? Well,

Labour says it will replace Rishi Sunak’s demand for compulsory maths classes until 18 with improved maths teaching for younger children and “real world” numeracy lessons for pupils in England.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, will tell Labour’s conference in Liverpool that its curriculum review would “bring maths to life for the next generation”, using practical examples drawn from household budgeting, currency exchange rates for tourists, sports league tables and cookery recipes.

Not quite. Phillipson tinkered with her speech after feeding it in advance to the media. So, “real world” is no longer there. But, the real world message is:

“Because be it budgeting or cooking, exchange rates or payslips, maths matters for success.

And I want the numeracy all our young people need – for life and for work, to earn and to spend, to understand and to challenge, I want that to be part of their learning right from the start.”

Yep just like phonics, which is, of course, all about the real world.

These people are always the same, the emphasis on “the real world” demonstrating only that they understand nothing of mathematics education. Greg Ashman responded perfectly to a tweet making this point: “It’s a ‘tell’ as the poker players would say”.

Phillipson may have deleted “real world” from her speech but there are still plenty of tells.

Tom’s Posts Are (Lagrange) Multiplying

Tom has a new post on his Teaching Mathematics blog: Lagrange Multipliers – A Historical Approach? Tom riffs off of a (not uncommon) poor 1960’s undergraduate lecture he had, on the method of Lagrange multipliers. Please support Tom’s blog and check it out.

Continue reading “Tom’s Posts Are (Lagrange) Multiplying”

Let Them Eat Dreck

Yesterday, we wrote about the Maths Battles at Adelaide’s Prince Alfred College, but of course, the big, nationwide maths battling took place last week, with the holding of the annual Australian Mathematics Competition. Administered by the Australian Maths Trust, the AMC was undertaken by ballpark 200,000 school kids from around the country and overseas.

The competition is excellently done. We arranged and administered the comp for kids at our daughters’ primary school, and for such an everywhere undertaking the process was remarkably simple and human. Moreover, for the clueless such as ourselves, AMT’s email help was great: quick and clear and friendly. More importantly, the competition questions are excellent, clearly written and clever and well-chosen, progressing from very obvious to very not obvious (even at the primary level). The AMT, including strong mathematicians, and including a few of our friends, work very hard to get this competition right. And, to those mathematicians, particularly our friends, we offer these two words: screw you. Continue reading “Let Them Eat Dreck”

Notch 8: Battling Away at Prince Alfred College

Anthony Harradine is tireless in trying to save Australian Maths Ed. He is responsible for MathsCraft and Numerical Acumen, and all manner of things. Anthony invariably takes a positive, Nice Guy approach to all this. Nonetheless, we get along very well.

Continue reading “Notch 8: Battling Away at Prince Alfred College”