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Does math matter? Vicki Dunne is concerned

By johnboy - 17 March 2006 13

Vicki Dunne has put out a media release concerned that a decline in the Mathematics department at UC might impact on the number of qualified maths teachers in our education system. The ABC has picked up the story.

This raises two questions for mine:

1) Is UC the only place we get teachers from?

2) Does maths matter as much now we have machines to do the thinking for us? [Note: I’m not saying no-one needs to know advanced maths, just asking if everyone does]

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Does math matter? Vicki Dunne is concerned
nyssa76 10:20 pm 20 Mar 06

I went there before they put in the secondary degree. It is because of the 5 graduating classes, before the secondary degree was brought in, argued for it that it came to be.

schmerica 10:12 pm 20 Mar 06

Ah – so true. Sorry Nyssa! To be honest, I forgot because I didnt consider going there.

nyssa76 7:02 pm 20 Mar 06

schmerica, ACU has teaching degrees – they are in Watson.

johnno 11:16 am 19 Mar 06

I decided to go into maths teaching upon completion of my tertiary studies in mathematics. However given the current cost of living (ie housing rents payable) in the ACT, I’ve left and taken up a position on the central coast. Same pay as I would have received in the ACT but substantially lower rents. Therefore I effectively earn more than I would have in Canberra. Any mathematics qualified teacher, still teaching in Canberra is, in my humble opinion, nuts.

schmerica 10:32 am 18 Mar 06

ANU Doesnt offer teaching, I think the closest place other than UC is Wagga…

Its important for kids to have math. Ive had jobs where i’ve needed to use my basic math skills just to give back change etc. Numbers are a part of our everyday life and kids should know what they are and what to do with them other than just punch it into a machine.

nyssa76 3:43 pm 17 Mar 06

Oops, I forgot to add…

Ari is right, most teachers of maths do leave the profession because they can get paid more elsewhere.

nyssa76 3:41 pm 17 Mar 06

Look, I retrained in Maths with the ACT Dept of Ed, at UC.

They only took on 15 people to do the course, and then out of those 15 people 11 are actually teaching maths – and most aren’t teaching a full load of maths (i.e. 5-6 classes of Maths).

ACU now has a secondary teaching degree, it use to only have a primary one and so UC was the ONLY ACT university to offer secondary teaching.

Hope that helps.

Fiona 1:35 pm 17 Mar 06

There’s the saying that “those who can, do and those who can’t teach”…

Anyway, my partner just started his maths phd at anu and all teh decent maths grads usually go on to futher study and lectuershipa nd research etc, while those who haven’t fared so well are more likely to head into teaching…

acturarial studies is it’s own professional degree (which if you’ve got a good enough uai you can enter sraight from hsc level), and while I do know a couple of maths grads who’ve headed into it klater on, I actually know a woman who was an acturary then went back into the research side of things rather than persuing the career.

I needed to do highschool maths so I have a vague idea what my mathemetician friends are talking about… *going all woolly* 🙂

Ari 10:32 am 17 Mar 06

This might be a divisive comment, but if you’re numbered among the ranks of decent mathematicians you can count on being offered much better-paid work than teaching.

Maths graduates probably calculate that they’d prefer adding up big bucks as actuaries or whatever.

caf 9:56 am 17 Mar 06

I think it’s helpful for people to learn stuff like simple calculus at least – even if they forget the details later, it at least means that they understand that there IS a logical, understandable underlying basis to a lot of the more complicated stuff they rely on. It reduces the kind of “oh its just magic” woolly thinking.

Oh, and the math you did in years 10, 11 and 12 is absolutely essential if you’d wanted to study, say, engineering later. Most people probably don’t know exactly what they want to do later in life at year 9, and many of those that do will change their minds anyway, so you wouldn’t want to be closing off possibilities too early.

johnboy 9:41 am 17 Mar 06

I’m not talking about learning the basics, multiplication, long division, calculation of areas and volumes, some basic algebra to understand the concepts.

everything i learned up to year 9 has been quite invaluable as I’ve progressed through life.

but all the math I did after then hasn’t been much help.

Spectra 9:38 am 17 Mar 06

That’s it, place you’re trust in machines – no need to be able to think for yourself anymore.

…MUHAHAHAHAHAH! Soon, we programmers will rule the world!

(To translate to a more on-topic response, yes, I think it’s vital to still understand what it is the machines are doing for us – how many times do you hear the phrase “the mistake was attributed to a computer error” on the news? How many of those might have been avoided if people had taken two seconds to think about what the machine was telling them?).

che 9:32 am 17 Mar 06

Since when do people studying mathematics mean that they’re going to become teachers?
I know a couple of mathematicians and none of them are teachers.

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