This PoSWW comes courtesy of our friend Alison. (Alison is the feistiest Christian since Jesus Christ.) The PoSSW was from a worksheet inflicted upon Alison’s Year 8-9 daughter. We don’t know the publisher of the worksheet.
Our second sabbatical post concerns, well, the reader can decide what it concerns.
Last year, diagnostic quizzes were given to a large class of first year mathematics students at a Victorian tertiary institution. The majority of these students had completed Specialist Mathematics or an equivalent. On average, these would not have been the top Specialist students, nor would they have been the weakest. The results of these quizzes were, let’s say, interesting.
It was notable, for example, that around 2/5 of these students failed to simplify the likes of 81-3/4. And, around 2/3 of the students failed to solve an inequality such as 2 + 4x ≥ x2 + 5. And, around 3/5 of the students failed to correctly evaluate or similar. There were many such notable outcomes.
Most striking for us, however, were questions concerning lists of numbers, such as those displayed above. Students were asked to write the listed numbers in ascending order. And, though a majority of the students answered correctly, about 1/4 of the students did not.
What, then, does it tell us if a quarter of post-Specialist students cannot order a list of common numbers? Is this acceptable? If not, what or whom are we to blame? Will the outcome of the current VCAA review improve things, or will it make matters worse?
Tricky, tricky questions.
OK, Dear Reader, you’ve got work to do.
So far on this blog we haven’t attacked textbooks much at all. That’s because Australian maths texts are, in the main, well-written and mathematically sound.
Yep, just kidding. Of course the texts are pretty much universally and uniformly awful. Choosing a random page from almost any text, one is pretty much guaranteed to find something ranging from annoying to excruciating. But, the very extent of the awfulness makes it difficult and time-consuming and tiring to grasp and to critique any one specific piece of the awful puzzle.
The Evil Mathologer, however, has come up with a very good idea: just post a screenshot of a particularly awful piece of text, and leave others to think and to write about it. So, here we go.
Our first WitCH sample, below, comes courtesy of the Evil Mathologer and is from Cambridge Essentials, Year 9 (2018). You, Dear Reader, are free to simply admire the awfulness. You may, however, go further, and what you might do depends upon who you are:
Here it is. Enjoy. (Updated below.)
* We can’t.
Following on from the comments, here is a summary of the issues with the page above. We also hope to post generally on index laws in the near future.