I’ve just received an email from the Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV), the body for Victorian maths teachers. The email is about a new initiative called, “ReSolve: Mathematics by Inquiry.”
This will be funded by the Australian Federal Government and aims at forcing all classrooms in Australia to adopt inquiry learning in mathematics:
“The project is developing classroom materials with an inquiry-based approach to mathematics, for every year of school from foundation to year 10. The materials will be reviewed by Fellows of the Academy, other senior mathematicians, and mathematics education experts, and will emphasise distinctive aspects of mathematics, including generalisation and proof as key elements of mathematical reasoning. They will emphasise mathematics as both a dynamic human endeavour and as an enabling science which underpins scientific and technological advancement. Many of the materials will be based on relevant real-world examples and contexts, and all will enable students to deal with complex situations using a variety of mathematical methods…
…reSolve: Mathematics by Inquiry will engage with and draw from the work of leading teachers, principals and academics from around the country. The project team will work closely with educational jurisdictions, teachers’ associations, teacher educators and principals to ensure that the materials and inquiry approach become a central aspect of every Australian mathematics classroom.” [my emphasis]
Inquiry learning is, at best, an approach to maths education that is seriously lacking in supporting evidence and, at worst, a method that could be described as pseudo-scientific. Inquiry may be effective for relatively experienced students such as those studying for a mathematics PhD but it is highly unlikely to be an effective pedagogical approach with relative novices in a school context unless a considerable amount of relevant knowledge is built in advance.
What are the MAV and the Federal Government doing?