Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Maths Teaching Faces a Crisis

Credit: tiero/Adobe

Credit: tiero/Adobe

By Michael O’Connor

With student numbers swelling, new graduate teachers alone cannot make up for the impending retirement of many mathematically qualified teachers.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

If your child’s team needed a new coach, would you choose an enthusiastic volunteer who has never played the game, or someone who had played and been coached themselves by professionals?

In recent months, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) has published two papers on the current status of mathematics teachers in Australia (https://bit.ly/2FF83jX; https://bit.ly/2EOPMh3). We identified a steady decline in qualified mathematics teachers at high school over the past three decades. The reasons for this are many and varied, but in this article I want to focus more on why qualifications matter.

To be qualified as an in-field mathematics teacher in this sense is defined in Australia as having studied mathematics or mathematics education units to at least the second year of an undergraduate degree. The expectation should be even higher for teachers of Years 11 and 12.

Having taught high school mathematics for many years, having a wider knowledge of the subject than just what is contained in the curriculum or textbook has allowed me to connect what is going on in the classroom with the world outside. It’s in the best interests of the students to have teachers who have the tools and understand enough extra...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.