Jan 20

This post is a response to an article by Dr. Catherine Attard, titled Mathematics education in Australia: New decade, new opportunities?

Thank you Dr. Attard, for your timely article.

Could it be the 'out of field' teachers you refer to might extend to British mathematics education authors between the 16th and 19th centuries? The reason I mention this is English language maths educators went 'rogue'. They ignored the 7th Century Indian astronomer (Brahmagupta) who actually combined base-ten positional notation and the 'laws of sign' for what we call integer arithmetic, including, negative, positives and zero.

Thus, the current Australian curriculum is literally littered with logical mistakes. Mathematics is said to be the language God made the universe. However, many concepts taught in Australian schools (Grades 7 - 10) disagree with the basic laws of physics which describe our physical surroundings.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. Yet the best villages to have raised a child with optimal logical mathematical foundations consistent with the laws of physics were in India in the 7th Century.

Nobody in the West is solely to blame for the primary level curricula that customers (students) have been rejecting for centuries. Europeans never stood a chance of understanding India's original (and correct) foundations of maths created by empirical astronomers. The reason is simple. India's original and correct Integer arithmetic 'curriculum' was never understood in the 9th Century Arabic world.

So, with 2020 hindsight, our 2020 vision should be to overhaul our curriculum so it agrees with India's common sense 'lost logic' of maths that is consistent with the laws of physics.

Yes, this comment is provocative for sure. Yet the answer to fixing maths education needs a different question. Our math garden is overrun with weeds. So, what OLD needs to be weeded and what NEW needs to be planted?

For those interested, clues can be found in my latest lecture, at the Center of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CoESME), IISER Pune, INDIA.

The lecture can be watched online at www.j.mp/HinduMaths
The slideshow can be downloaded at www.j.mp/IndiasMaths

Thank you for reading this note and I wish you a happy and healthy 2020!Jonathan J. Crabtree
Elementary Mathematics Historian
Melbourne Australia