Mathematics education expert says proposed curriculum on right track

ACARA doing good things with maths curriculum for younger students.
Jul 14, 2021
Earlier exposure to key concepts.

Primary school teachers and parents can rest assured knowing ACARA’s proposed revised mathematics curriculum is largely on track to support young learners, according to one of Australia’s leading mathematics educators.

ORIGO Education Executive Chairman and Founder James Burnett, and his Mathematics Advisory Board colleagues Dr Calvin Irons, Dr Sara Delano Moore and Peter Stowasser, have spent a combined 45 hours reviewing every aspect of the proposed mathematics curriculum for students in Foundation through to Year 6.

“Since the curriculum was first published in 2010, Australia has performed poorly on international tests in mathematics, particularly PISA. This revision provides a rare opportunity to get Australia back on par with our economic peers around the world,” said Mr Burnett, who has authored and co-authored more than 300 mathematics resources for teachers and students aged five to twelve and is regularly invited to speak to audiences across North America and Australia.

“Our Mathematics Advisory Board members have more than 100 years’ combined experience in mathematics education, working across the globe, and believe this proposed curriculum is on the right path to support our young Foundation to Year 6 children.

“Having read much of the recent mainstream criticism regarding the proposed revision of the Australian mathematics curriculum we conducted and submitted (6 July) a thorough, detailed review to assist ACARA in moving forward with decisions.

“It’s unfortunate that metropolitan media reporting continues to focus on the negative, rather than highlight two hugely popular decisions, that is to decrease rote memorisation and procedures, and to emphasise computational thinking – a much-needed skill that has been missing from the current curriculum.”

Mr Burnett explained, however, that there was room for improvement within the proposed revised curriculum. “For example, the first three year levels should explicitly address the three types of subtraction problems, as these are pre-requisites for content that ACARA has mapped out in later year levels. The same could be said for number tracks. Experience with this length model will assist in the number line work that comes later.”

“And, while for the most part, the document is well sequenced, there does seem to be inconsistent writing across Years 3-5 in some space and algebra content descriptions and their matching elaborations.

“The work in algebra on properties of operations is done far too late to help with computation. These properties (commutative, associative, and distributive) are not complex and should be explored earlier so they can be used with computation with greater whole numbers, fractions and decimals.”

“We believe these issues are easy to fix and hope that ACARA takes our review as a positive contribution to this extremely important process.”

To read the ORIGO Education Mathematics Advisory Board’s full review of the proposed revised mathematics curriculum, click here

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