The Sunday Age
Dear Ms Alcorn,
POOR MATHS TEACHERS?
Yes, maths teachers are paid less than maths people in other professions, and they were treated poorly with last Sunday’s Age (‘Poor teachers make maths a bridge too far’ 10/6), unfairly blaming poor mathematics teaching in our primary and secondary schools for falling enrolments in two of the three Year 12 maths subjects.
The fact is that there are more students studying Year 12 mathematics now than ever before and, in a vote of confidence by students to their maths teachers, VCE enrolments in Further Maths have risen from 30% of VCE students in 2001 to an amazing 58% in 2012, more than compensating for a slight decline in enrolments in Specialist Maths, where a failure by university folk like the complaining Dean of Engineering to specify this course as a university entry pre-requisite has made it less attractive to students.
Fortunately three commentators much more in touch with the situation in schools were also asked for their views. Principal’s spokesperson Frank Sal and the Education Union’s Mary Bluett both said that increased pay levels would attract more qualified maths teachers, with current shortages requiring non-maths teachers to take junior maths classes (You could hardly blame maths teachers for that!). Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon (a former teacher) is obviously thinking along the same lines – promising an extra $29 million to tackle the maths/science teacher supply problem.