Learning mathematics creates opportunities for and enriches the lives of all Australians. The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics provides students with essential mathematical skills and knowledge in Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability. It develops the numeracy capabilities that all students need in their personal, work and civic life, and provides the fundamentals on which mathematical specialties and professional applications of mathematics are built.
The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics ensures that the links between the various components of mathematics, as well as the relationship between mathematics and other disciplines, are made clear. Mathematics is composed of multiple but interrelated and interdependent concepts and systems which students apply beyond the mathematics classroom. In science, for example, understanding sources of error and their impact on the confidence of conclusions is vital, as is the use of mathematical models in other disciplines. In geography, interpretation of data underpins the study of human populations and their physical environments; in history, students need to be able to imagine timelines and time frames to reconcile related events; and in English, deriving quantitative and spatial information is an important aspect of making meaning of texts.
The curriculum anticipates that schools will ensure all students benefit from access to the power of mathematical reasoning and learn to apply their mathematical understanding creatively and efficiently. The mathematics curriculum provides students with carefully paced, in-depth study of critical skills and concepts. It encourages teachers to help students become self-motivated, confident learners through inquiry and active participation in challenging and engaging experiences.
An important consideration in the structuring of the curriculum is to embed digital technologies so that they are not seen as optional tools. Digital technologies allow new approaches to explaining and presenting mathematics, as well as assisting in connecting representations and thus deepening understanding. The continuing evolution of digital technologies has progressively changed the work of mathematicians and school mathematics (consider the use of logarithm tables and the slide rule), and the curriculum must continue to adapt.
Digital technologies are now more powerful, accessible and pervasive. For example, modern mathematical technologies (hand-held devices or computer software) support numerical, statistical, graphical, symbolic, geometric and text functionalities. These may be used separately or in combination. Thus, a student could readily explore various aspects of the behaviour of a function or relation numerically, graphically, geometrically and algebraically using such technologies. These approaches allow greater attention to meaning, transfer, connections and applications. Digital technologies can make previously inaccessible mathematics accessible, and enhance the potential for teachers to make mathematics interesting to more students, including the use of realistic data and examples.
The curriculum and associated assessment will allow teachers to use appropriate technologies in the classroom that support learning and teaching mathematics. The curriculum will advise on standards and expectations for parts of mathematics which are better done mentally, and the need for students to make appropriate choices about when to use technology. To give just one instance, it is reasonable to expect that school leavers will choose mental calculation to multiply or divide by 10 or 100, or to calculate a 10 percent tip, and that nearly all will be able to accurately estimate 15 percent of a quantity. In the senior secondary years, current courses allow appropriate use of computer algebra systems and dynamic geometry, and an option for this will be preserved in the new national mathematics curriculum.
Information and communication technology (ICT) competence
Students develop ICT competence as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately when investigating, creating and communicating ideas and information at school, at home, at work and in their communities. ICT competence allows students to solve problems and readily perform previously onerous tasks. Calculators of all types, from the simple four-operations versions to more complex graphical and CAS calculators, can be used to make calculations, draw graphs and interpret data in ways that have previously not been possible. Digital technologies, such as spreadsheets, dynamic geometry software and computer algebra software, can engage students and promote understanding of key concepts. However, there will be occasions where teachers will ask students to undertake tasks without using technology.