Mathematics education

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Many of the genes for maths and reading overlap. Businessman via alphaspirit/Shutterstock

Better at reading than maths? Don’t blame it all on your genes

I disliked and feared maths for most of my school career and dropped it as soon as I possibly could. My mother recalls me crying as a five-year-old because: “I can’t do the people-on-the-bus sums”. If…
The answer… 56. Multiplication table by extender_01/Shutterstock

What is 7x8? You’ll need confidence to answer correctly

The British Chancellor George Osborne recently refused to answer a simple times table question posed to him by seven-year-old school boy Samuel Reddings. Osborne was asked the question 7x8, but declined…
A better grounding in mathematics is needed for a career in science. Shutterstock

A lack of maths just doesn’t add up for a career in science

Our future in science, technology and engineering relies on a foundation and understanding of mathematics. And while it is pleasing to see a growth in interest in our advanced mathematics course at the…
Chess can be applied to maths education – you just have to think outside the box. practicalowl

A good move to master maths? Check out these chess puzzles

In the spirit of the current world championship bout between Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen and Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, we should seriously consider the role of chess in how young students…
Forget the calculator: maths is about ideas, not arithmetic. celestehopkins

Putting maths on the map with the four colour theorem

Recently, as a community ambassador for ANU Student Equity, I took to a local secondary school to talk maths with a small group of students. The goal? To give them an enjoyable mathematical experience…
Sending secure information? You could do a lot worse than employing the RSA algorithm. Seq

The RSA algorithm (or how to send private love letters)

A couple of days ago on The Conversation, I set myself up with a task: to defend the usefulness of so-called “useless” maths. Today, that defence continues, with a look at the RSA algorithm. I finished…
As all mathematicians know, the rift between useful and useless can change with time. Manu gomi

Your number’s up – a case for the usefulness of useless maths

I once made the mistake of asking a mathematician why he devoted his whole life to maths. “Because it’s fun!” he replied wildly, his flabby cheeks beaming with childlike excitement. “Ah, of course,” I…
Mathematics enrolments are falling but demand for trained mathematicians is on the rise.

Q+A: Top maths adviser sounds alarm on mathematician shortage

Demand for trained mathematicians is growing but enrolment is maths courses is in steep decline. Failing to tackle the problem…
Two new international reports on school performance should be put into perspective. Education image from

Are we headed for an educational disaster? Hardly

The recent release of Australia’s performance in the TIMMS (2011) and PIRLS (2011) test results has sparked much media comment about what this means for the quality of Australian education. The focus so…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Australia to improve its international standing in education performance, setting a goal to be in the top 5 by 2025. AAP

New reports sound alarm on school performance: experts respond

Two new education performance reports released by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) have painted a bleak…
The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. Test image from

Latest tests show PM’s 2025 education goal is in doubt

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in September set an ambitious goal for Australian education: to be ranked as a top-five country in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. Clearly she is hoping to lift Australia…
Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Chalkboard image

Our Asian schooling infatuation: the problem of PISA envy

It was fun while it lasted Finland, but we’re going cold on you. We thought your schools had the secret but our new infatuation is with Asian school systems. The Prime Minister seems to agree. The government…

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