24 SES 04, A Socio-political Discussion about the Ambivalent Role of Policy and Mathematical Educational Research. Revisiting the “Gap”
In many (mathematics) education systems, teachers’ work is guided by what is stated in the intended curriculum. This is often in the form of official curriculum documents, such as the teaching and learning syllabus in Singapore (Singapore MoE, 2012) and the Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics in Australia (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2016). The extent to which classroom teachers succeed in planning lessons which embody policy intentions depends, however, on two related factors. These are: how the content in the curriculum document is arranged and presented, and how teachers make use of the curriculum documents. For example, in the new Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics, what are valued in the ‘overview’ section of the curriculum document are different from the content descriptions for the various grade levels from Foundation grade to Year 10, in that whilst the latter focuses on mathematical knowledge and skills for various topics, the former articulates aims and purposes that are much broader beyond the individual learner’s mathematics attainment, to include life capabilities and societal applications (Epstein, 2016). Indeed, the Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics advocates the teaching of 4 proficiency skills, namely Understanding, Fluency, Problem Solving and Reasoning. Yet, one may be forgiven to have the impression that the content descriptions are not much different from earlier iterations of the intended curriculum, with the latest thinking and ideals expressed in the Overview section only! Such inconsistencies of what the policies appear to value within the curriculum documents are unfortunately not unique to the Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics. The same was evident in the case of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics too (ACARA, 2015), according to Rose (2015) and Atweh, Miller and Thornton (2012). we are not convinced that the published Curriculum is internally consistent in its assertions of what is important in the Introduction when this is read in conjunction with the articulation of the content and its elaborations in the main body of the document. (Atweh, Miller & Thornton, 2012, p.9) Implications for optimal layout of curriculum documents’ content will be proposed. Suggestions will also be made regarding how teachers might be encouraged to make use of this content in even more productive ways.
Atweh, B., Miller, D., & Thornton, S. (2012). The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics: World Class or Deja Vu? In B. Atweh, M. Goos, R. Jorgensen, & D. Siemon (Eds.), Engaging the Australian Curriculum Mathematics: Perspectives from the field (pp. 2–18). Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2015). The Australian Curriculum: F-10 mathematics (v 8.0). Retrieved from Sydney, Australia: Epstein, M. (2016). What matters in mathematics education? An analysis of an intended curriculum in Australia. (Master of Teaching (Secondary) Capstone Research Project), The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Rose, J. R. (2015). The Australian National Curriculum: Perspectives of teachers and school administrators on issues and concerns surrounding implementation. Adelaide, SA: University of Adelaide. Singapore Ministry of Education. (2012). Primary mathematics teaching and learning syllabus. Singapore: Ministry of Education. Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2016). Victorian curriculum: Mathematics. Retrieved from http://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/mathematics/introduction/rationale-and-aims
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