Monday, August 15, 2022

Future success of the Australian workforce at risk from new mathematics curriculum: Minerals Council

The Australian mining industry is concerned that the newly proposed curriculum poses a risk to the prosperity and future success of the workforce.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) is calling on the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to strengthen the curriculum of STEM subjects.

“The mineral industry needs the best and brightest students with a broad and deep understanding of the world around them to achieve more sustainable and socially valuable outcomes,” said MCA CEO Tania Constable. “Supporting continued success and growth must be objective and appropriate to the contemporary national curriculum to support future operational, technical and professional careers.”

The constable says the change in the draft curriculum is “considered bad” and only serves to undermine the national education norms.

She also raises concerns about the current skill shortage in the industry and the need to develop the workforce of the future.

“As Australia recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the skills and training needs of both the industry and the future minerals workforce will need to be closely addressed, including those entering and re-working from other industries affected by COVID-19. The constables are involved,” the constable said.

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ACARA’s draft for elementary education in mathematics places more emphasis on problem-solving and less on rote learning.

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In April, Australia’s five education bodies for STEM learning, including the Australian Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AMSI), signed a joint statement ‘Why Maths Must Change’.PDF), which supported the direction of the new course.

“Instead, problem-solving, math, hypotheses, model abilities are all skills that are worth acquired knowledge,” the statement said. “Math learning cannot sit in silos that focus on content and processes. Instead, it should be something that gives purpose to knowledge.”

However, on Thursday AMSI withdrew its support for the draft and instead voiced its “multiple concerns” about the changes.

“While some AMSI members welcomed the greater emphasis on problem-solving and investigation, there was considerable concern that this emphasis comes at the cost of mastery and fluency,” said AMSI Director Professor. Tim Merchant said. “Mastery of mathematical approach is required before student problem solving can be effective.”

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In its submission, AMSI stated that it does not support a number of changes where the teaching of key mathematical concepts was delayed or removed.

These changes include pushing back the teaching of how to tell time from Year 1 to Year 2, learning to solve linear equations from Year 7 to Year 8, and solving linear equations with algebraic fractions in Year 10 because It was not “necessary.”

“Our expectations for Australian students in 2020 should not be less than what the group of mathematics students achieved from 20 years ago,” AMSI submission said, referring to the fact that students’ performance in the PISA exam has dropped by 33 percent since 2003 – almost a year after schooling.

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