Maths and the HSC

Front page of the Sunday Telegraph today:

Maths would become a compulsory HSC subject under a radical proposal to address a statewide skills shortage.

Excuse me. Since when is the compulsory teaching of mathematics radical? I hadn’t heard that maths was a voluntary subject in the HSC. No wonder Australian students are falling behind.

I suppose that underwater basket weaving is compulsory in today’s HSC.

The NSW Teachers Federation [sic] should take full responsibility for the decline in education standards in NSW. This organisation is a blight on society, preaching mediocrity and eschewing intellectual challenge. The Federation operates by mantra not philosophy or enlightenment.

It is no surprise that the front page is also taken up with Kyle unleashed. The type of people who listen to Kyle Sandilands are the product of the NSW education system.

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114 Responses to Maths and the HSC

  1. 2dogs

    What gets me is why English was compulsory. Not to pour scorn on the immortal bard, but how is the ability to analyse Shakespeare an essential skill?

  2. duncanm

    I hadn’t heard that maths was a voluntary subject in the HSC.

    Neither had I . I thought at least what we used to call ‘veggie maths’ was compulsory.

    Absolutely astounding that someone could call its inclusion radical.

  3. Anthony

    It’s clear now why you call yourself 2dogs.

  4. This should be up to the Principal and parents, maths needs a major overhaul to move into a new century of computers and automation.

  5. Anon

    This kind of rabid, scattershot stream of consciousness blogging does nothing to convince anyone of anything that you say, regardless of how valid it is.

  6. Andrew

    2dogs, I’ve always felt that a compulsory (THE compulsory) subject that so heavily tilted to poetry and literature made no sense. Sure, keep the improvement in writing and comprehension skills – but that’s 1 unit, not 2. Of course, we are captured by The Yarts – the yartocrats probably consider this much more important than higher maths.

    To change, the case must be made that virtually all occupations need HSC maths. Do they?

    More important is the free 100-200 points to immigrants. If you’re from the Middle East, just study Arabic. You’ll do pretty well. If you’re from the right, French too. Getting a 100 point boost in the HSC for sitting your native language is another great idea from the Left for fucking over disadvantaged natives.

  7. incoherent rambler

    One of my offspring has an honours degree in maths/physics (VCE entr score of 98.6).
    The only job he finds in Australia is cooking fries for a hamburger chain.

  8. Andrew

    Maths is not compulsory in Year 11 either. I understand why English is compulsory but I think it should focus more on grammar than it currently does considering how many students continually make the mistake between “there”, “their” and “they’re” in Year 12.

  9. Toiling Mass

    Maths ceased being a compulsory element of the HSC in New South Wales in 2001, under the premiership of none other than Robert John Carr!

    He didn’t want anyone being able to check his Labor’s calculations.

  10. Rich

    It won’t work – kids who genuinely want to do maths already do it, forcing kids to do it is unlikely to turn them into engineers, the same way I found English completely irrelevant at that level

    Secondly, ‘general maths’ is already done by the vast majority of kids – would they be forced into the extension or would this just be a political gimmick?

    If you have a look at what the universities say, it’s that not enough kids do science and maths, and science is dropped by students far more readily than maths (the basic course at least), so in another few years will they make a science compulsory too? There’ll be no room for electives eventually

    Not that I mind, get rid of business studies and make them do maths and two sciences – would probably bring a lot of marks down and spark a debate about standards

  11. duncanm

    It reminds me somewhat of my university days.

    My engineering degree required compulsory humanities subjects — endless raving about big bad employers during the industrial revolution and how the soviets got it right.

    I’m pretty sure the arts students weren’t subject to compulsory semiconductor physics.

  12. duncanm

    Secondly, ‘general maths’ is already done by the vast majority of kids – would they be forced into the extension or would this just be a political gimmick?

    Rich… I don’t think anyone here is suggesting kids are forced into extra maths… but the very basics (the ‘general maths’ subject) should be compulsory.

    If you can’t pass that, why are you doing year 12?

  13. Ant

    Actually, no form of maths was compulsory when I did HSC in Victoria …. in 1980!

  14. I understand why English is compulsory but I think it should focus more on grammar than it currently does

    Agreed.

    When I went throughYear 12 (none of this two year easy-street stuff), ONE humanity (out of five subjects) was compulsory. By that stage, it had become my understanding that Year 12 English was a matter of turning out the desired answers. I dropped it and took Latin instead, thanking every God in the Roman pantheon that I had the option to do so. As with foxholes, there are no atheists in matriculation exam rooms.

  15. Louis Hissink

    There’s arithmetic and there’s mathematics. Which one?

    Arithmetic is knowing how count and manipulate numbers – adding, multiplying, dividing and subtracting.
    Mathematics is actually a language using symbols to manipulate ideas and includes trigonometry, algebra etc.

    Individuals only need to learn the skills of arithmetic, reading and writing in order to make use of the enormous body of knowledge extant available to them. The rest of education is simply indoctrination in some or other ideology/religion.

  16. ChrisPer

    Exactly why will differential calculus help the ordinary person? A stream of inspired engineering and science students is a great idea, but no more than 10% of students can build on that.

    English is great, now they teach outlining, planning and argument to some extent. All they need to do next is gulag the teachers that make it about mandatory envirofeminism and shift from indoctrination to liberation.

    Better to teach entrepreneurship, real proactivity, networking, and breaking out of idleness traps, if you are going to mess with compulsory subjects.

  17. Rich

    Rich… I don’t think anyone here is suggesting kids are forced into extra maths… but the very basics (the ‘general maths’ subject) should be compulsory.

    Ah ok – I’d still call it a gimmick then, if most kids are already doing the basic maths course I can’t see a huge amount of benefit in making the remainder do it as well, I doubt it will make those students much more useful when they leave school, or get more kids into useful subjects and away from the humanities

    I do agree with doing it, it just seems to be a lot of noise in the media for little real gain

    btw – having never studied ‘veggie maths’ at this level – does it actually focus on maths skills? In my experience anything real-world (multiplication, percentages etc) left the classroom when I was about 14 for stats, trigonometry, algebra and calculus

  18. Walter Plinge

    Getting a 100 point boost in the HSC for sitting your native language is another great idea from the Left for fucking over disadvantaged natives.

    And to make it worse, getting extra marks for sitting English as a second or foreign language when you’ve lived here since you were 1 year and speak it better than a native.

  19. Fleeced

    Back when I did HSC, the only compulsory subject was English… I believe that’s still the case.

    The idea that understanding proper English is important or something… which is silly, because that’s got nothing to do with the HSC subject, which is all touchy-feely analysis of post-modern literature and poetry and whatnot. These days, they also throw in aboriginal PC stuff for good measure.

    Hell, even maths has been ruined, with “problems” relating to their favoured pet topics such as global warming… I was helping my nephew with his studies, and he had a maths question on welfare payments. This is what maths is now – teaching kids how to calculate their welfare entitlement.

    The reason HSC has been going backwards is because of all of this interference… no subject should be mandatory – lt that be sorted by supply and demand – and decentralise control of the syllabus from the current mob of ideologues.

    There’s also too many students doing HSC – the politicians boast about this, but it isn’t a good thing at all – it’s been dumbed down to cater for them. Pretty much everyone does year 12 now – with the push now being to get everyone a university degree.

  20. craig

    The three ‘R’s need to be stripped back to its basic level again and taught for what its purpose was, that is, to comprehend and understand everyday business transactions and to converse coherently in a language that we all, collectively, can understand. The current free thinking ideology that seems to have captured our educational system needs to be put down like a horse with a broken leg. Euthanised and buried never to be seen again. Sadly however, when our unis offer degrees in twittering, is it any wonder that we’ve seem to have breeded a generation of sociopaths?

  21. Stateless, free and happy

    Inconherent rambler: One of my offspring has an honours degree in maths/physics (VCE entr score of 98.6).

    I know the feeling. My son completed a physics/maths degree from G8 uni and no job. He should have gone into accounting or business management like his peers or some sustainability stuff!!!. The corporate world has little use for higher level maths or thinking for that matter.

  22. Fleeced

    This should be up to the Principal and parents, maths needs a major overhaul to move into a new century of computers and automation.

    No, it doesn’t. Not at high school anyway – this is where foundations are taught – basic principles and stuff. This whole “maths needs an overhaul because Technology” crap is part of the problem.

    I should add, that I agree the inclusion of maths as a mandatory subject is hardly radical – and given the bunch of nonsense on offer, may even be positive – but I still think no subject at all should be mandatory (at least, as far as the BoS is concerned – schools should be free to make it so, as I believe mine [private school] did back in the day)

    Oh, and somebody mentioned, “veggie maths?” I believe that what we referred to as veggie maths now has a couple math levels *below* it. Not that that’s an entirely bad thing, mind you – some people doing year 12 could do with some remedial math to function in the real world… but if they didn’t learn it in years 7-10, they probably won;t in 11-12.

  23. A H

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance.

    Is this a Libertarian blog or what?

  24. Fleeced

    I know the feeling. My son completed a physics/maths degree from G8 uni and no job. He should have gone into accounting or business management like his peers or some sustainability stuff!!!. The corporate world has little use for higher level maths or thinking for that matter.

    There’s certainly a demand for mathematical modelling, but they are very few, and the roles tend to be “absorbed” by others, such as engineers. As a result, they often end up teaching, which seems a great waste, IMO – but that’s what happens when you pursue something for which there is no demand… I was doing Maths at uni, but transferred to Comp Sci. Proved much more interesting.

  25. Fleeced

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance.

    Agreed.

    Is this a Libertarian blog or what?

    Not for a while.

  26. incoherent rambler

    “The language of physics is mathematics. The reason why conversation about physics is restricted to a select few.” – can’t remember who said it.

    Is the AGW scam a result of a lack of basic math skills?

  27. Noddy

    More Crap!
    My children were instructed that if they wanted to get on in this world then they should learn to read, write and do simple arithmetic and why… You need to read so you can understand the job adverts,
    You need to be able to write clearly to present a job application making you acceptable to a prospective employer and you need to count to check whether you are being ‘rooked’ in your pay packet.
    Thereafter all good things will come your way… WE HOPE!

  28. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    The only compulsory subject when I studied for the HSC (1992) was English.

    We had one bloke drop all maths at the end of Year 11. He was mercilessly lampooned. Everyone else did some form of maths.

    The higher maths that I learnt was useful for my economics degree but not for much else since then. Was proud a couple of years ago, when preparing some sort of analytical tool at work, that I could solve a problem by calculating the area of a triangle using sine, cosine etc (although I had to use Wiki for the exact formulae – memory wasn’t that good).

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance.

    +1,000,000

    Is this a Libertarian blog or what?

    It used to be.

  29. Tel

    Neither had I . I thought at least what we used to call ‘veggie maths’ was compulsory.

    There should certainly be a “Veggie English” subject and it should be compulsory, but it should focus on modern context and optimal communication. Knowing how to understand other people and how to be understood is very important. Knowing about Jane Austin is rather less important.

  30. Ellen of Tasmania

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance.

    Agreed.

    The value of a subject understood isn’t just in the utilisation of the knowledge gained.

  31. Samuel J

    If someone is incapable of learning basic maths at the Year 11 and 12 level he or she should not be allowed to study the HSC.

  32. Tel

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance.

    I’m all for alternatives to school attendance, given that our school system is inefficient, and clings to ancient methodology. However, I want to live next door to people who are not complete imbeciles because ultimately I have to trust those people when it comes to voting and to personal security. I’m perfectly happy for them to get their skills some other way than going to school.

  33. Dianne

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance

    If you want to see the real world impact of this type of thinking – move to Alice Springs.

    The saddest thing I have ever seen is an aboriginal man hold out his hand with a heap of coins asking if he had enough money to buy the item he had.

    The real world impact of this, is people who are trapped in poverty, with little or no hope of ever getting ahead.

  34. Maths was not compulsory back when I did HSC 43 years ago. As someone who did maths back then, I think being able to count, reckon and figure is probably a good thing, but I am damned if I can see the need for a knowledge of differential calculus, integral calculus, poisson distribution or matrix algebra for some kid going on to study classical civilisations.

    What about geography as well? In what way is a knowledge of the main exports of Bolivia any less important? Economics? Latin?

  35. .

    Dianne
    #1147291, posted on January 12, 2014 at 11:20 am

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance

    If you want to see the real world impact of this type of thinking – move to Alice Springs.

    No. if you want to see that kind of thinking, see the homeschoolers in the US beating the other kids and getting into the prep schools that get you into Amherst, Yale etc.

  36. Andrew

    Oh, and somebody mentioned, “veggie maths?” I believe that what we referred to as veggie maths now has a couple math levels *below* it.

    No, veggie maths (2Unit General, when I did it) is still called General Maths. That is the lowest. There is still Maths (2U), Extension 1 (3U) and Extension 2 (4U).

  37. Andrew

    No, veggie maths (2Unit General, when I did it)

    Just to clarify, when I did the HSC. I didn’t mean to incorrectly imply that I did 2UG.

  38. duncanm

    There seems to be some theme here amongst some that HSC shouldn’t enforce any ‘high learning’ of items such as algebra or Shakespeare.

    I’ve changed my tune. NOTHING in the HSC should be compulsory. Not Maths, not English.

    The basics should be covered by year 10 (arithmetic, grammar, etc),

    The HSC is for the beginning of specialisation- targeting subjects relevant to a career or further-education you want to pursue. Appropriate advice should be given on this (eg: You shouldn’t ami for a commerce degree without some form of mathematics), but apart from that, if you don’t need/want to do this stuff, then you should be out getting a trade or straight into work.

  39. Milton Von Smith

    No more damaging evidence can be adduced to prove the weak­ness of character than for one to have aversion to mathe­matics; for whether one wishes so or not, it is nevertheless true; that to have aversion for mathematics means to have aversion to accurate, painstaking, and persistent hard study, and to have aversion to hard study is to fail to secure a liberal education, and thus fail to compete in that fierce and vigorous struggle for the highest and the truest and the best in life which only the strong can hope to secure.

    – BF Finkel

  40. duncanm

    No subjects should be compulsory. Neither should school attendance

    Dianne wrote:
    If you want to see the real world impact of this type of thinking – move to Alice Springs.

    Dianne. You are equating school attendance with education.

    Education should be compulsory, school attendance should not.

  41. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Andrew, I thought veggie maths was Maths In Society. It covered basic arithmetic, geometry etc (I think: none of my friends did it).

    2 Unit General was the course studied by most students.

  42. rickw

    I think the whole education system has been so derailed by teaching ideology and political ideology that we should simply pick a primary school and high school syllabus from one year between 1950 and 1960 and start again from there.

    Maths and English have not changed.

    (I have two kids in primary school, the amount of time we spend teaching them the way we were taught is ridiculous, one of them in particular was tending towards concluding that Maths and English were incomprehensible garbage, primarily because of the incomprehensible way that they were briefly taught. Overall her school days were filled with anything other than Maths and English.)

  43. Maths in year 11-12 is a waste of time for people who aren’t going to university. As the first poster said, they would be better off studying computer software.

    You don’t need to know how to calculate the volume of a cube to be a functioning member of society.

  44. stackja

    Maths and the HSC

    I left school before the HSC and the teachers tired of trying to teach me maths. I can do basic arithmetic and read and write. My school was not under state control.
    Regarding Bob Carr he is busy teaching the SMH about US history:

    The evils of idealism
    WILSON By A. Scott Berg Simon & Schuster, $29.99 Reviewed by Bob Carr
    The entrenched view of Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States from 1913 to 1921, is that he was a prophet who wanted to make the world safe for democracy, his vision repudiated by a war-weary population.
    I have a different view. I believe Wilson was incontestably the worst president in US history. Bob Carr was foreign minister in the Gillard and Rudd Labor governments.

  45. .

    I know the feeling. My son completed a physics/maths degree from G8 uni and no job. He should have gone into accounting or business management like his peers or some sustainability stuff!!!. The corporate world has little use for higher level maths or thinking for that matter.

    Can he code? Does he understand basic economics and finance?

    Contact a headhunter and get into derivatives trading.

  46. .

    Yobbo is right. What I learned about computers at shcool was abysmal. I’m just pre “digital native”.

  47. JC

    Well, ChrisPer that’s if you only want to be ordinary…one should be inspired to be extraordinary.

  48. duncanm

    dot – agreed.

    No jobs in physics or maths, but plenty (and I mean *plenty*) of companies want smart people who can apply their minds to difficult problems.

    That is what the son has demonstrated by completing such a difficult degree. That he is smart, and can apply his mind to complex problems for a long period of time without being distracted by the trivialities of the business world.
    The earlier he learns that his skills are transferrable to other non-scientific fields, the better.

    There are jobs in physics and maths, but they are few and far between, most likely in a gov’t agency (CSIRO etc), and don’t pay well.

    I’ve worked (and do currently) with some very cluey physicists. None of them are working in their original fields.

  49. duncanm

    Rambler and stateless,

    get thee spawn to some headhunters who hire for largish firms (> 1000 people) in mining, business, supply chain, communications, etc. Just go in for a chat.

    They need to be exposed to where all the real braniacs end up in the world outside academia.

  50. Kaboom

    Why hasn’t Numbers (a.k.a. “Jellybean Bob”) spewed forth his usual crap yet? This thread is right up his alley…

  51. Jim Rose

    Maths should not be compolsory because of differing aptitudes by hsc level.

    History is a better place to learn English because you write essays.

  52. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Reading down the various responses I understand why

    “It is no surprise that the front page is also taken up with Kyle unleashed.”

    Griffith University Dental School offers services conducted by final year students under supervision. In the treatment area one sees 30 or 40 undergraduates at work – no more than five are not Asian.

    Our best consulting design engineer is Korean, as is our excellent GP here; we use a clever young lady architect born in China. Our solicitor retired, a lifelong business advisor, and we now use his fabulously well trained apprentice … born in Hong Kong.

    The dentist is also from Hong Kong and, in Sydney, from Sri Lanka – she is now business partner of a crafty old Aussie mate / millionaire dentist who saw which way things were headed twenty years ago and employed only smart young things from Asia.

    The top 5% in the HSC results in Australia is awash with Asians, studying the demanding subjects we are too cool to need. It has been that way for a decade or more – a friend who has headed several elite girls high schools confirms I am not telling myself what I want to hear.

    Try employing or engaging an Australian graduate “professional” if you really want to witness innumerate, illiterate and incapable of confidently presenting his work. The difference is stark.

    I wander – coood u tel thu diff?

  53. CR

    My daughter will be attending the Australian Industry Training College on the Gold Coast next year to complete year 11 & 12. She wants to work in childcare. This college is privately owned and has an industry and trade focus. Apparently there were 23 of these types of colleges and this is the only one left.
    Tafe colleges should be based on this model IMHO.

  54. Fleeced

    Nothing should be compulsory by HSC level, as the basics should be done with. HSC math isn’t about arithmetic, and HSC english isn’t about grammar.

    Maths in year 11-12 is a waste of time for people who aren’t going to university.

    I’d go further and ay that 11-12 is a waste of time for people not going to uni… it shouldn’t be needed.

    No, veggie maths (2Unit General, when I did it) is still called General Maths. That is the lowest.

    Hmmm… back when I did HSC, 2UG wasn’t the lowest. There was a “Maths in Society” (Maths in Space, we used to refer to it as) and an even more basic “Maths in Practice”. I think the latter was basically the remedial stuff they should have learned before 11-12. Now that I think about it, Maths in Space might have been the old 2UG – so it may have only been one lower version (Maths in Practice), and not two.

    Looking at the website, these no longer exist… I guess that means one or more of the following:
    1. I was completely wrong, and things have actually progressed (good!);
    2. The basic courses were no longer needed as people stopped enrolling in maths courses (arguably not so good, and could explain why they want some level of mandatory study… if so, expect the lower levels to be re-introduced); and/or
    3. Teachers just plod along with the course material and those that don’t understand it are left behind (very bad, but likely the case if my nephew is anything to go by)

  55. You don’t need to know how to calculate the volume of a cube to be a functioning member of society.

    I disagree. That’s just basic arithmetic.

    You don’t need to be able to calculate the volume of a truncated cone tho.

  56. struth

    I think we can all agree, our radical lefties putting brainwashing kids with their ideology before actual education, is the problem. We know this. The brainwashing and dumbing down of our youth is a traitorous act against Australia.
    Just like every gov department in Australia, even when liberals are in they keep information and decisions away from the relevent minister and fight harder to maintain their hold.
    Our overly nice soft cock liberals never even exercise their power.
    I haven’t seen them do it since the waterfront.
    The good guys need a rocket up their collective backsides.

  57. incoherent rambler

    Why hasn’t Numbers (a.k.a. “Jellybean Bob”) spewed forth his usual crap yet? This thread is right up his alley…

    Because he is math illiterate.

  58. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Yobbo at 11:55 am:

    “Maths in year 11-12 is a waste of time for people who aren’t going to university. As the first poster said, they would be better off studying computer software.

    You don’t need to know how to calculate the volume of a cube to be a functioning member of society.”

    … bit difficult for the young bloke on site left all alone to determine how much concrete he needs to order.

    I know, I know – that’s reality, not knowledgeable hypothesis.

  59. Andrew

    Andrew, I thought veggie maths was Maths In Society. It covered basic arithmetic, geometry etc (I think: none of my friends did it).

    Ah yes, showing my age a little (although young by Cat standards). I’m old enough to remember when veggie maths was 2UG – which is currently the lowest I could find today. And then yes, they then brought in MIS – day to day arithmetic that should have been well covered by year 7-8. I think it’s gone again.

    2 Unit General was the course studied by most students.

    Yeah, part of the dumbing down was this meme that 2UG was the “norm” rather than 2U. I can’t say I ever bought that routine. You don’t do 2UG Economic, or 2UG Arabic, or 2UG Physics.

  60. Ellen of Tasmania

    “The very power of [textbook writers] depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

  61. Tel

    Maths in year 11-12 is a waste of time for people who aren’t going to university. As the first poster said, they would be better off studying computer software.

    The last thing the software industry needs is more math illiterates. Send them into politics or human resources or something like that where they can’t do much harm.

  62. duncanm

    Mick,

    we need to be careful of the other end of the spectrum, where everyone goes to Uni.

    Much of Asia is awash with PhD’s with no jobs to go to.

  63. duncanm

    … to continue.

    I had an interesting discussion with someone in Taiwan recently; we were both lamenting the cost of plumbers, electricians and the like in our respective countries.

  64. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    I have a different view. I believe Wilson was incontestably the worst president in US history.

    And I, and many others, believe Bob Carr was incontestably the worst Premier of any state in Australian history.

  65. Anon

    This kind of rabid, scattershot stream of consciousness blogging trolling does nothing to convince anyone of anything that you say, regardless of how valid it is.

    Come back and tell us what you really think after you’ve spent a few years correcting honours graduate’s serial grammatical errors; ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, ‘brake’ instead of ‘break’, etc.

  66. jack

    the great waste in australian education is the focus on ‘no child left behind’,and the leftie push for everybody to do a university politics course. i listened to an abc activist announce on her program that politics should be the mandatory subject,as she assured us that without her university politics course teaching her the right way to think,she could have grown up thinking anything. the true casualties are people like -peter roebuck- the autodidact cricketer/commentator that suicided in south africa when his posse of young african males came under investigation. the top end handful of kids that are high maintainance,and require more than one size fits all education are burnt up and wasted by the left. the theory that the ‘not quite right,but incandescently inquiring’ will fit into the constrained politically correct convoy is a criminal waste. most of the massively talented burn out,and sadly if they haven’t produced a leap forward in human thinking in early life,they won’t ever do so,but one of these wasted kids is a resource that can not be replicated by political correctness training given to a thousand kids that should be apprentices,not uni students.

  67. Fleeced

    Ah yes, showing my age a little (although young by Cat standards). I’m old enough to remember when veggie maths was 2UG – which is currently the lowest I could find today. And then yes, they then brought in MIS – day to day arithmetic that should have been well covered by year 7-8.

    Ah, so Maths in Space was the old 2UG…. fair enough – but when I was doing HSC, they brought in Maths in Practice – once lower still.

    Checking out the Board of Studies site, General Maths (2U), is now the lowest, so looks like MiP didn’t last.

    Seems they keep tinkering at the edges. I suspect if Maths is made mandatory again, that they’ll re-introduce a basic/remedial course as an option.

    Evolution of Math questions:

    - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
    - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
    - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost of production is $80 and her profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
    - By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes a mere $20. How does that make you feel?

  68. Fleeced, you’re probably right, I guess I really mean there are too many kids in school who shouldn’t be there. I’ve worked in the country where blokes who could only read the sports pages, never having gone past year ten, and had better mental arithmetic than I did. Mostly from betting on the horses.

    Also, there is virtually no innovation in schools today. New teaching methods could be tested if individual schools could try their own methods. Leaving it up to the Teachers Union isn’t a solution.

  69. incoherent rambler

    The downstream wealth generated by the likes of Newton, Feynmann, Einstein, Bohr, Mozart, Handel … is enormous. Then we can consider things like the invention of the ball bearing (who was it?) and value of the single invention to humanity.

    I would argue that rather than target at equal outcomes we first make every attempt to ensure that the next Newton or Einstein does not slip through the cracks of the education system (or dies early from drug abuse). Smart people can make societies rich (in more ways than one). I would also argue that we provide the next potential “ball bearing inventor” with the necessary education to enable them design, build and/or articulate their invention.

  70. Notafan

    My youngest is about to waste a year of his life doing VCE but he wanted to stay for the friendships. Otherwise if it were up to me he would be doing an apprenticeship.
    My eldest did a difficult degree in the sciences, did very well, having lots of Asians around was very conducive to working hard. She clearly had an aptitude for maths and science. (not from me, I’m just happy I can do percentages) Now her alma mater wants her to be a pin up girl for the 2015 graduate season. Wonder why.

  71. Spiro

    Your don’t need maths to work at Holden. (or all of your teeth)

  72. incoherent rambler

    Your don’t need maths to work at Holden. (or all of your teeth)

    Your don’t need maths to work at Holden be Prime Minister. (or all of your teeth)

    Fixed it.

  73. the true casualties are people like -peter roebuck- the autodidact cricketer/commentator that suicided in south africa when his posse of young african males came under investigation. the top end handful of kids that are high maintainance,and require more than one size fits all education are burnt up and wasted by the left.

    Jack, I was under the impression that Roebuck suicided because he was ashamed that his sexual or quasi-sexual relationships with some of these young men were going to be exposed.

    Why would he suicide otherwise? Roebuck had plenty of friends and supporters who would have defended him – and who did defend him, after his death. This is even though he had earlier been convicted in Britain for identical offences – promising young men educational help, and then expecting something in return that they were unwilling to give.

    I don’t think anyone denies he did a lot of good for many young people, but it’s just the prospect of unwanted sexual relationships taking place that soured this.

  74. Grant B

    I drank with a bloke who used a calculator to add three numbers together but knew any darts out of 170 or less. eg 167 is triple 20, triple 19, inner bull which I’ve seen him throw.
    I have a couple of maths degrees but don’t believe any student should have to anything higher than year 10 maths if they have no interest in it or are not particularly good at it. They will have enough disappointments through life without having failure forced upon them at an early age.

  75. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From duncanm at 2:29 pm:

    “Mick,

    we need to be careful of the other end of the spectrum, where everyone goes to Uni.

    Much of Asia is awash with PhD’s with no jobs to go to.”

    I agree. My comments revolved only around the professions.

    I’d propose a system whereby everyone has basic maths, science and English under their belt by the time they get to 15 or 16, and electives during those first four years of high school that suit their aptitude – woodwork and metalwork or Latin and Ancient History for the aspiring solicitors, for example.

    For the trade inclined they could leave school then and enter a specialised course under a – well – let’s call it an apprenticeship scheme, where they could learn practical applications from a senior tradesman of the things they are being taught a couple of days a week at a – say – a “technical college”.

    By the time they are 20 they would have their “ticket” to earn a good quid doing the type of work that suits them, charging good rates to university educated solicitors who are not good with their hands.

    I cannot understand why the system doesn’t try that idea.

    It has Labor working man written all over it and … oh, wait. John Dawkins.

    I’d also be inclined to drop the mandatory unit found in all study courses entitled Environmental Empathy and Gender Ethics via Interpretive Dance.

  76. DrBeauGan

    Quite the opposite Grant B. The main advantage of compulsory Maths is that you discover that you are stupid and can’t reason early on, Thus discouraging you from going into parliament. Think how much better a world it would be if being able to prove pythagoras’ theorem were a condition for being in either the reps or the senate. :)

  77. Fleeced

    This is what you get nowadays…

    Anti-racism in mathematics teaching:

    o Discussion of the mathematical knowledge of ancient civilizations outside of Europe, and non-European contributions to mathematical knowledge and discovery.
    o The avoidance of racial stereotypes or cultural bias in classroom materials, textbooks, coursework topics and examination questions. For example, common non-European names, such as Chaim (Jewish), Jamal (Arabic), or Muhammed (Arabic), could be used in story problems, rather than common European names, like Mary or Emily.

    Ugh… no wonder none of my nieces or nephews like maths. I know we all have different aptitudes and all that, but I would have expected at least one of them to be into numbers.

  78. caveman

    One for you five for me. Best maths ever.

  79. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Fleeced at 4:58 pm:

    “This is what you get nowadays…

    Anti-racism in mathematics teaching:

    o Discussion of … civilizations outside of Europe, and non-European contributions to …
    o The avoidance of racial stereotypes or cultural bias … For example, common non-European names, such as Chaim (Jewish), Jamal (Arabic), or Muhammed (Arabic), could be used in story problems, rather than common European names, like Mary or Emily.”

    That is enormously funny and simply bizarre.

    The West has explored, invented, prospered and now that we’ve got it so many who enjoy the bounty just hate the West, they despise it. They propel themselves into jobs which focus on having the rest of us join their visceral distaste for ourselves.

    Do Death Cultists hate themselves as much? Or the Burmese, Mongolians and Chileans?

  80. dd

    In maths, it’s okay to be wrong if you can bullshit your way through it.
    here’s the transcript if you don’t follow the link.

    Teacher: “Under the new math common core, even if they said ’3 times 4 equals 11′, if they were able to explain their reasoning, and able to explain how they came up with their answer, really, in words and oral explanations, and they showed it in a picture, but they just got the final number wrong? We’re really more focusing on the ‘how’ and ‘why’…”
    Interjector: Will you be correcting them?
    Teacher: Oh absolutely. We still want our students to compute correctly, but the focus is more on the explanation. And the how and the why, and, can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer. And not just knowing that it’s twelve but, why is it twelve? How do I know that?”

    The consequence of putting more ‘explanation’ into maths is that you’re making it more of a test of a mixture of numeracy and verbal skills rather than pure numeracy. This tilts the playing field toward certain demographics….

  81. JC

    DD

    I don’t find much wrong with that. I think it’s better to know the methodology figuring out how one gets to 12 than simply tote learning 3 X4 =12 and not knowing why.

  82. dd

    JC there’s always been an element of that in maths, in that if you have a complex problem and make a simple error you can salvage some points for knowing the method.

    But there is much more emphasis on verbal skills in maths now.

  83. duncanm

    dd, I agree with JC.

    3×4 is a very bad example.. but knowing how to get to a solution is very important in higher maths – and possibly more important than making sure there isn’t a trivial mistake half way through two pages of work.

  84. dd

    I think it’s better to know the methodology figuring out how one gets to 12 than simply tote learning 3 X4 =12 and not knowing why.

    The kids who can explain best are not necessarily those who are best at maths. And a child who is onlyg good at maths, and not verbal abilty, will actually lose out to an extent if the gifted talkers are talking their way into marks for wrong answers, while the poor verbal student gets the answer right.

    You’re a trader. Who do you want to figure out tomorrow’s trade… someone who gets it right? or someone who kinda knows the right method to figure it out, might make a mistake, but can explain where they went wrong in hindsight?

  85. dd

    3×4 is a very bad example.. but knowing how to get to a solution is very important in higher maths – and possibly more important than making sure there isn’t a trivial mistake half way through two pages of work.

    We all agree that there should be partial marks for understanding the method but screwing it up.
    That’s not the same thing as actually incorporating a verbal component.

  86. .

    What are you suggesting DD??

    Anyway

    Think how much better a world it would be if being able to prove pythagoras’ theorem were a condition for being in either the reps or the senate. :)

    I know it’s true but I don’t know if I can prove it purely with algebra or calculus (anymore).

  87. .

    You’re a trader. Who do you want to figure out tomorrow’s trade… someone who gets it right? or someone who kinda knows the right method to figure it out, might make a mistake, but can explain where they went wrong in hindsight?

    They’re a different beast, like me, called “economists”.

  88. feelthebern

    Maths in Society was maths in space.
    Maths in Practice was vege maths, but we renamed it at my school to “Choko maths”.
    For the record, I did 3u maths.

  89. JohnA

    CountingCats #1147396, posted on January 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    CC we seem to be of the same era as I completed HSC (Vic) in 1969, then studied Accounting till 1972.

    You don’t need to know how to calculate the volume of a cube to be a functioning member of society.

    I disagree. That’s just basic arithmetic.

    You don’t need to be able to calculate the volume of a truncated cone tho.

    However,
    a) it would be a good idea to know what a litre looks like when you take milk to the checkout
    and
    b) I’ll bet you can figure out how quickly you can eat a Cornetto before it melts in the sun…

  90. JohnA

    dd #1147707, posted on January 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    3×4 is a very bad example.. but knowing how to get to a solution is very important in higher maths – and possibly more important than making sure there isn’t a trivial mistake half way through two pages of work.

    We all agree that there should be partial marks for understanding the method but screwing it up.
    That’s not the same thing as actually incorporating a verbal component.

    “Close enough” or “didn’t need to check that result – I got the method right” could end up being very expensive. The Hubble Telescope has a monocle because someone was out by 1/4 inch in the grinding of the primary lens!

  91. DrBeauGan

    There is no ‘reason’ why 4×3=12 that is intelligible to a schoolie, or all but the best maths teacher, except writing four rows of three dots and counting them. It can be proved. It needs a definion of 4,3,12 multiplication and equals. We don’t do this in the schools.
    Dot, if you needed to pass a qualifying exam, I reckon you could find a proof of pythagoras’theorem on the net, and follow the logic. I honestly doubt if Joan Kirner could. She could memorise one, but you simply have to take a rote learnt proof make some small changes and ask if it still a proof. Dumb people can’t tell. People who can reason can.

  92. dd

    This isn’t a problem in Aus anyway. The link I posted was about the US common core. The Australian education bureaucracy hasn’t actually gotten that bad….

  93. ProEng

    Just found a school report of my mother’s when she was 14 yrs old.
    Religion good, English good, French good, German very good, History very good, Geography very good, Mathematics good, Natural Science very good, writing/essays good, drawing/art very good, needlework good, singing/drama very good, gymnastics very good, swimming -top grade.
    My father’s record was similar for the first 7 subjects but he did Chemistry, physics, and biology, and physical education for the others.
    I think students worked harder then and at a higher standard.
    At around 14 I had religion, English, English literature, French, Latin, history, geography, mathematics (including algebra and trigonometry), Science and Art. Sport was not part of the curriculum but every student at the school took part in swimming, athletics, cricket or tennis, rugby or some minor sports.
    As an engineer I was amazed to find graduates who were poor at writing, logic and mathematics. Graduates who believed everything from a computer was correct and did not realise that programs from US often used different units. Graduates who did not know the basics of engineering science.

  94. David x

    Try teaching in a public school and then you would realise that declining educational standards ( though with maths you could argue this is not the case) are part and parcel to a cultural change…the kids are immersed in a technological environment of instant delight and little effort. That the kids literally have attention spans of barely 20 minutes is not an overstatement… in fact they are the better kids. The poorer students just don’t want to be there or treat it as an amusement. ( ” I will just do a Business degree” says one indolent trouble maker ‘it doesn’t matter what I get for my HSC to do business”).
    The kids who should leave at 16 are now held back to 17 , so most public schools have a layer of kids who are just disruptive ( they wreak classes) and unless they do something particularly egregious they can cause havoc all the way to year 12…and get their piece of paper. Yes if a student does the tasks and consistently gets below 50 40 30 % that is, he’s a disruptive failure…he will get his Higher School Certificate.

    So in response the school system has spawned an array of keep busy electives along with the traditional Wood and Metal work subjects which can be done at the HSC level, so as to engage the students who traditionally left school before HSC….yes , want to do basket weaving do HSC Design and Technology as a subject.
    Meanwhile ( in NSW) selective schools syphon off the good kids ( kids who are bright and have parents who value education and put effort into their kids) which robs other kids of the same location, role models or a competitive ‘boot strap’ to get them to the higher performance levels.

    Lets face it , parents themselves are both working and are busy and don’t want to know about little Johnny failing maths , they aren’t going to sit down with him and help him understand. Improved more rigorous standards aren’t going be any good here.

    Making maths compulsory for HSC is frankly an exercise in futility.

  95. ProEng

    As an Addendum to above- In religion, I learnt about all religions including Buddhism, Muslim, Judaism, Hinduism, and the development of various Christian sects. In Latin we learnt about the Romans. Christopher Pyne is right religion and history are interwoven. Humankind has moved forward when religions allow science and engineering to flourish. The green environmental movement has become similar to a religion and is holding humanity back. With the rise of China showing the benefits of engineering development maybe the rest of the world will set themselves free from extremists of all religions (Moselm and Greens in particular)

  96. Grant B

    If I had a student who claimed their methodology is correct (at a 95% confidence level) even though their answer is incorrect (as per observation or other means), I would suggest that they forget about mathematics.
    And direct them to the new multi-story Climate Science complex where this sort of nonsense doesn’t matter so much.

  97. Ty Webb

    We don’t have enough students doing Extension 1 and 2 maths. We should be trying to get more students doing these subjects.

    Making maths compulsory would just mean more students doing General maths. And that’s just what we don’t need. There are far too many doing General maths already.

    If you want to raise standards try making Extension 1 and 2 maths compulsory instead!

    Oh but then the apologists for mediocrity would say we can’t do that! It’s too hard for most students.

    These apologists will win, the apathy will continue and just get worse if maths were to be made compulsory.

    So I say don’t.

  98. Brian of Moorabbin

    One for you five for me. Best maths ever.

    Pretty sure it’s “one for you, nineteen for me” actually…

  99. Andrew

    For example, common non-European names, such as Chaim (Jewish), Jamal (Arabic), or Muhammed (Arabic), could be used in story problems

    Chaim and his family catch the #44 bus every day. If Muhammed wants to blow up the bus:
    1) Calculate the optimum ratio of diesel in litres to ammonium nitrate in kg (Note: Assume it is NOT produced from Alberta shale sands)
    2) If Jamal rented a U-Haul 20′ rental truck with a tare of 9000lb and a GVM of 14500lb, convert to metric to calculate the maximum blast possible given the ratio calculated in 1)
    3) If the bus is moving at 35 km/h and it takes Muhammed 12 seconds to dial and connect his mobile phone detonator, how far ahead does he need to see the bus to detonate it at the optimum point?

  100. RMR

    My recollection of studying maths, and now with daughters doing the same, is that it is the best subject for teaching thinking discipline. It also shows that sometimes there is a definite answer that you just can’t guess, that you need to think through an issue to get a good answer.

    Now this depends on a reasonable syllabus (a problem at present), and at least fair quality teachers, a growing problem. But if these are both bad schooling will be a complete waste of time regardless of whether the subjects are compulsory or electives.

  101. JohnA

    Brian of Moorabbin #1147852, posted on January 12, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    One for you five for me. Best maths ever.

    Pretty sure it’s “one for you, nineteen for me” actually…

    Brian, you could try this game called (funnily) The Taxman

    And I agree it is artificial, because there you can beat the taxman.

  102. Dan

    I’ve forgotten now but I think 4*3=12 is axiomatic actually. There is nothing to explain. It is like saying 1=2 and ‘explaining’ why you think so.

    Dianne, has it escaped your attention that these indigenous children ARE legally required to be at school already? Has compulsory schooling turned out well in Alice?

  103. Cool Head

    It is a symptom of our thin ecenomy. My Aussie company makes and sells complex Analytics in the US. Quants, as the experts are called, are hard to find and earn up to $500k here. Doing high level math in the 1960s worked out well for me.
    PS. Don’t try and sell Analytics in Oz.

  104. Up The Workers!

    Maths?

    Who needs it?

    Wayne Swan had zero mathematical ability, and it never held him back, within the A.L.P.

  105. dd

    PS. Don’t try and sell Analytics in Oz.

    Why not?

  106. 132andBush

    Chaim and his family catch the #44 bus every day. If Muhammed wants to blow up the bus:
    1) Calculate the optimum ratio of diesel in litres to ammonium nitrate in kg (Note: Assume it is NOT produced from Alberta shale sands)

    Best method was squeeze the mixture in your fist and let it drop out. If no more than one or two grains of the prill stuck to your skin you had the ratio correct.

    At our small town public school we parents have stated (via the P&C and school Council) we want the students to know up to the 12 times tables by the end of yr 4 if not sooner. It has come as a bit of a shock to learn this has not been the case. I remember knowing them all, in the mid seventies, by grade 3!

  107. Maws

    Maths wasn’t compulsory in Victoria when I did my VCE in 1989

    To be able to study Maths in Year 12 you were required to do both Maths A & Maths B in Year 11, I did both in Year 11 but when you can only choose 5 subjects something has to go.

  108. The Consigliere

    But since Maths is liberally biased, wouldn’t this put students with a conservative upbringing at an unfair disadvantage?

    Chris Pyne will then have to go the trouble of convening another expert panel.

  109. HK_Brother

    Mathematics and logic under ALP in the last 6 years.

    * Spend money based on computer models and forecasts. Not based on money that actually comes in.
    * Borrow more in order to spend more. (Presumes people will lend you money without question.)
    * Spend AUD$13+ billion on Education. (Buildings and computers that no one asked for.)
    * Employ about 12,000 more into public education. (Grow Govt).
    * Australia’s International standing in mathematics drops by 4 places under Gillard.
    * Gillard responds by throwing money at the problem (an additional AUD$16 billion): Gonski! Gonski! Gonski!
    => Translation? Taxpayer money mainly benefits Unions! Unions! Unions! (Not once do they mention how throwing money at the issue actually helps students at the classroom level!)

    Apparently, compulsory mathematics is considered “radical” in Australia. While in Asian countries, its the norm! (Being Chinese with traditional parents, they are laughing at this kind of news. The first time I see my parents on the ground laughing!)

    Meanwhile, Chinese graduate 250,000 engineering students every year in Western universities. Technological progress is aggressive in China. The attitude of your typical Chinese with skills is akin to American capitalists. They like the notion of not depending on anyone and growing strong through experience and hardship.

    Long term assessment? Western societies are in serious trouble if they don’t stop this Left-leaning loser culture and turn things around to actually educate kids. Seriously, if someone is “offended”, give them the finger and laugh in their face! (The more you appease a loser, the more power you give them!)

  110. .

    What is Consig. on about?

    Maths and statistics are politically neutral, as are all real sciences.

  111. Mullumhillbilly

    Dot at 1147720… If you stare at your avatar pattern long enough, you will see there is a proof to Pythagoras hidden there. Not pulling your leg, it’s really there.

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