## 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.

## Notch 7: Ed Barbeau on Gifted Education

A very pleasing irony of writing this thoughtless and classless, “We’re all doomed” blog is that it has resulted in my being introduced to thoughtful and classy heroes like Tony Gardiner, mathematical stars who have been working tirelessly for decades that we not be doomed. The most recent introduction is to Edward Barbeau, a star of Canadian mathematics education. Tony Guttmann, AKA Mr. Very Big, alerted me to a long comment Ed contributed to a maths-ed discussion, on gifted education. Ed has kindly permitted me to reproduce his great comment here. Continue reading “Notch 7: Ed Barbeau on Gifted Education”

## Guests in the Spotlight: Anthony Harradine – Simplify

The Maths Ed World is of course full of people who have failed upwards, but Anthony Harradine is different; Anthony has succeeded downwards. Anthony long ago forwent a position of considerable apparatchik clout to instead Do Things That Matter. Anthony’s projects notably include Numerical Acumen and Mathscraft, but there is plenty, plenty more. Anthony Harradine is one of my, very few, maths ed heroes.

## NotCH 4: Five Problems From Tony Gardiner

We have written about Tony Gardiner and excerpted from his writings a number of times: here, here, here, here and here. We will post an entire article by Tony in a day or so, but we are first posting the problems contained within the article. Unlike the “problem” here, the problems below are genuinely presented by Tony to puzzle over, and are only loosely tied to the text of the article. Have fun. Continue reading “NotCH 4: Five Problems From Tony Gardiner”

## 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.)

Continue reading “Tony Gardiner on Problem Solving”

## And the Winner Is …

Definitely not Sydeney.

OK, in a futile attempt to unPonzi our blogging scheme, we’re closing off our four competitions.* The winners are indicated below, and any winner who has not died of old age should  email us to receive their prize, a signed copy of the best-selling** A Dingo Ate My Math Book.***

## AMSI Calls for a Halt of the Mathematics Curriculum Review

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute has finalised and released its submission for ACARA’s consultation on their draft mathematics curriculum. For eccentric reasons, we haven’t properly read AMSI’s submission. (Seriously.) We understand that it is a good and strong statement. The second and key paragraph is

In early April, AMSI, together with some of its key partners, released a joint statement on the proposed new curriculum “Why maths must change”. AMSI initially endorsed the revised draft curriculum in our joint statement. However, there is now an opportunity to comment on the draft curriculum, and we have revised our position, following extensive consultation with representatives of our member organisations. Many members expressed concern, and indeed alarm, at numerous proposed changes. AMSI and its members believe that the new curriculum should be delayed, and we ask ACARA to halt the current review process.

## What Are the Arguments FOR the Draft Mathematics Curriculum?

This one is a companion to our problem-solving treasure hunt, and again amounts to a competition. We have written roughly ten million words on what is wrong with the draft mathematics curriculum. And plenty of people, including a number of big shots, have signed the open letter calling for the draft curriculum to be withdrawn. But where are the arguments for the draft curriculum? There is undoubtedly support for the draft curriculum. In particular, we are aware of a decent amount of snark directed towards the open letter and this blog. What we are unaware of is any substantive arguments in favour of the draft mathematics curriculum. The only articles of which we are aware, we posted on here and here. The first article came out before the draft curriculum and doesn’t amount to a substantive defense of anything. The second article was written in direct response to the open letter, and is so weak as to warrant no response beyond the comments already posted. And, apart from these two articles we are aware of nothing. No blog posts. No tweets. No anything. Just an arrogant and vacuous dismissal of the draft’s critics.* And now to the competition:

What is the strongest argument FOR the draft mathematics curriculum?

To be clear, what we’re asking for are very specific examples of good things within the draft curriculum, examples of content and/or elaborations that are genuine plusses. So, for example, claiming “the focus on mathematising” as a good won’t win a prize. First of all because the suggestion is really stupid, and secondly because such a generalist statement provides no specific evidence of how the mathematising is good. If you really want to argue that the mathematising is a plus then the argument must be based around very specific examples. Similar to our problem-solving competition, the intention here is not to imply or to prove that there is nothing of value in the draft curriculum. Rather, the competition is intended to imply and to prove that there is very little of value in the draft curriculum. Your job is to try to prove us wrong. Answer in the comments below. The provider of the most convincing evidence will win a signed copy of the number one best-selling** A Dingo Ate My Math Book.

*) If anyone is aware of any article/post/tweet/anything in support of the draft curriculum, which also contains at least a hint of evidence, please let us know and we will seek to address it.

**) In Polster and Ross households.

## Update (29/07/21)

We’ve finally ended this. The winner is really nobody, but we’ve awarded it to John Friend. See here for details.

## Does the Draft Mathematics Curriculum Contain Any Problem-Solving?

We’ve written about this before, and the point is obvious. But, it’s apparently not sufficiently obvious for some wilfully blind mathematicians. So, let’s go again. Plus, there’s a prize for the best comment.*

ACARA is playing people with a cute syllogism.

• Problem-solving is good.
• The draft curriculum contains lots of problem-solving.
• Therefore the draft curriculum is good.

Yep, the syllogism is flawed from the get go. But in this post we want to focus on the second line, and we ask:

Does the draft mathematics curriculum contain any problem-solving?

Certainly the draft curriculum contains a hell of a lot of something. As we’ve noted, the draft refers to “investigating” or some variation of the word 298 times. And, students get to “explore” and the like 236 times, and they “model” or whatever 264 times. That’s a baker’s ton of inquiring and real-worlding, which some people, including some really clueless mathematicians, regard as a good thing. Ignoring such cluelessness, what about genuine mathematical problem-solving?

The draft curriculum refers to “problem(s)” to “solve” 154 times. But what do they mean? When, if ever, is the draft referring to a clearly defined mathematical problem that has a clearly defined answer, and which is to be solved with a choice of clearly defined mathematical techniques? To the extent that there are any such “problems”, do they rise above the level of a trivial exercise or computation? In the case of such trivial “problems”, is the label “problem-solving” more than a veil-thin disguise for the mandating of inquiry-learning?

In brief, is there more than a token amount of the draft’s “problem-solving” that is not either real-world “exploring/modelling/investigating” or routine exercises/skills to be taught in a ridiculously inappropriate inquiry manner?

Perhaps genuine mathematical problem-solving is there, and we are honestly curious to see what people have found or can find. But, we’ve found essentially nothing.

And so, to the competition. Find the best example of genuine, mathematical problem-solving in the draft curriculum. Answer in the comments below. The most convincing example will win a signed copy of the number one best-selling** A Dingo Ate My Math Book.

*) Yes, yes. we have those other competitions we still haven’t finalised. We will soon, we promise. As soon as we’re out of this ACARA swamp, we’ll be taking significant time out to catch up on our massive tidying backlog.

**) In Polster and Ross households.

## Update (29/07/21)

We’ve finally ended this. The winner is, hilariously, Glen. See here for details.