MAV Response to the Draft Australian Curriculum - Mathematics

Filed under: Announcements — jeannecarroll @ 11:34:33 am

I have submitted our response to the draft Australian Curriculum - Mathematics to ACARA for consideration.
I have attached a PDF copy for your information below.
Thank you very much to all those who contributed.
Best Regards

Jeanne Carroll
MAV President


Comments, Pingbacks

  1. Firstly - thank you for someone(s) for looking at the Draft in such depth!
    Secondly - my main objection to the Draft is the amount of content to be covered, and consequently the speed at which students have to move through the curiculum. I believe that about 60% of students can do higher level maths IF they are given the opportunity in lower years to move slower and understan one bit before being forced to move on. This is the single biggest factor in students not liking and being successful at Maths and choosing it in the Senior Secondary and Tertiary levels. The dratf makes the situation worse - there is still far too much in it, and does not allow for exploration, discovery and proofs.
    Thirdly - the draft does contain some stupid mistakes and errors - could someone clean up the MAV submission so that ACARA does not dismiss the MAV submission for containing some mistakes and typos.

    Comment by Keith Currie [Visitor] — 04/16/10 @ 12:35

  2. I work as a statistician in health care and I have some comments on the way that statistical analysis is presented in the current Victorian curriculum, and the proposed national curriculum (which I will abbreviate at NC).

    In his pamphlet “On education” John Milton sets out his views about education in England in the 17th century. One of his criticisms is the following. “…we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year.” (Hughes (1957, p. 631))

    A similar comment could be made about the strand on probability and statistics in the draft National Curriculum in Mathematics. Let me elaborate. I will refer to the draft National Curriculum in Mathematics simply as NC.

    Data analysis is covered in the curriculum from kindergarten to Year 10. The aim is that students will be able to “recognise and analyse data and draw inferences” (NC, p. 2). Statistical inference is a well developed, formal branch of mathematics. To understand it properly one needs at least some calculus.

    NC gives me the impression that statistical inference will not be addressed at all before the end of Year 10. In several places, NC mentions that, in data analysis, students will “make connections”, but a common error is for people to make connections without reference to statistical inference. It would be a mistake to teach students to draw conclusions by simply looking at data.

    If formal statistical inference will not be addressed in K-Year 10 (and I would not suggest that it ought to be), then the data analysis section of NC consists of methods of elementary descriptive statistics. These methods could be taught easily and delightfully in a term.

    I also object to the calculators that are so prominent in upper secondary schools. First they are very expensive and this only adds to the huge inequities in the school system. Second, the calculators are very clunky to use when compared to something like SPSS or Excel. A statistician would not use these calculators in practice; even students at university tend to use packages for statistical analysis. Spending time (and money) on these calculators to do statistics at school is a waste.


    Hughes, M.Y. (1957) John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

    Comment by Terry Mills [Visitor] — 04/20/10 @ 00:15

  3. I am very concerned about the content demands of the NC in the middle years as a current teacher of years 9, 11 and 12. I felt that the expectations were based on availability of teaching time more in tune with the 1970's than current, or likely future, trends of around 3 hours per week or less. I was also struck by the lack of connections between topic areas. It appears that there will be no focus on developing ideas and depth of understanding but rather a fleeting treatment of "bits and pieces" of maths. I believe the multiple representations of number sequences, algebraic expressions and equations is vital in linear,exponential and quadratics topic study. I also think that measurement and geometry needs to be clearly connected along with number representations such as surds with measurement, Pythagoras and trigonometry, and the importance of estimation in this area. It is good to see Statistics and Probability throughout, but better grouping of the conceptual ideas is needed to avoid topic isolation and lack of analysis. It is really disappointing to see ICT seemingly added in here and there rather than embedded throughout. It is surely time to see ICT as a tool for thinking not a way of performing hard calculations we can't do in our heads! In short, it seems a very boring, repetitive curriculum which attempts to cram content rather than develop thinkers.

    Comment by Lisa [Visitor] — 04/26/10 @ 19:43

  4. In secondary schooling hand held technology (CAS enabled or not) should be the technology of choice (at this time in the century anyway). From a learning perspective - this allows students to make use of, and control, their own personal technology – this is particularly important for adolescents. From a teaching perspective – the technology is always available. Naturally some specific technologies will be see as ‘better’ then the hand held technologies, however, as any secondary teacher knows, in many schools accessing computers with the required application or access to web-based materials is often impossible. Hand held graphing calculators are specifically designed for education, they can be used for myriad mathematical purposes across the years 7-12 and beyond. It is to the advantage of our students – current and future – that we provide them with opportunities to become expert in the use of hand held technologies and be empowered to increasingly make the decision how and when to use these in their mathematics.

    Comment by Jill Brown [Visitor] — 05/07/10 @ 09:53

  5. I am interested in knowing more about the shortfalls and the advantages of the New Australian Curriculum in Mathematics. Has a comparison chart been developed comparing VELS and new Curric. Drawing out the differences etc Please let me know I am doing my Masters on this topic and am highly interested

    Comment by Michelle Stone [Visitor] — 05/08/10 @ 10:58

  6. No matter how much everyone talks of "understanding" and making maths interesting, the main factor in the turnoff of secondary maths students must in my opinion be a direct consequence of lack of mental arithmetic. The use of calculators anywhere in junior forms leads to a dependence from which many brains never recover, and as a result secondary processes of algebraic common factors or common denominators are nigh on impossible. Forget secondary maths; the main life use of maths for most people is mental arithmetic. It would also be helpful if a student knew what it meant when told "learn that." eg. the quadratic formula. Students at year 12 who do not have a very good command of mental arithmetic or the ability to DELIBERATELY memorise facts and methods, have a very hard path. Bring back rote learning in primary years.

    Comment by Dennis Wright [Visitor] — 05/13/10 @ 13:16

  7. Thank you Dennis for your comments. I have now submitted the MAV response to ACARA, so won't be able to include your points specifically although I thik that we have made reference to the ideas. Make sure you submit them on the ACARA website.

    I agree that some students lack facility in mental arithmetic and number sense as a result of their dependence on calculators. However, I am in favour of the many uses to which calculators can be put that actually help in the development of understanding of mathematical concepts. The important issue is to make sure that teachers have access to professional development that enables them to make sound pedagogical choices about their use of calculators and computer technologies.

    Comment by jeannecarroll [Member] — 05/13/10 @ 14:43

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