Maths Conference Bringing Maths to Life – NSW’s new mathematics syllabus

UNSW Sydney

On Thursday 23 November 2023, UNSW Sydney will host a conference ‘Bringing Maths to Life 2023: Thinking and working mathematically in the new syllabus’.

Strengthening maths teaching skills in light of the new syllabus – which will be taught in schools from 2024 – is the focus of the conference keynote speeches and workshops.

The inclusion of the concept of ‘Working Mathematically’, alongside gaining necessary procedural knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts, is perhaps the biggest change to the curriculum and will require teachers to adapt and upskill to help students understand the why as well as the how of thinking mathematically.

Keynote speakers include: Anna Wethereld, lead author on the Stage 6 Mathematics and Numeracy Syllabuses and former Maths Curriculum Inspector with the NSW Education Standards Authority; Eddie Woo, Professor of Practice, Education USyd and Leader Mathematics – NSW Department of Education; and Professor Dianne Siemon, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education, RMIT.

Anna Wethereld will speak on ‘Bringing Life to Maths’, showing that mathematics is not simply a subject, but rather a way of unpacking and making meaning of life.

“My keynote will explore the historical development of ‘Working Mathematically’ and its journey in NSW, providing examples and thought starters on how to use students’ real lived experience as the foundation from which working mathematically processes develop. This will challenge the current cultural mindset that mathematics is hard to learn and not for everyone! A key goal of teaching mathematics within the NSW school system is to provide students with a new way of understanding, explaining and interpreting the world around them.”

Eddie Woo will talk about ‘Connections that Count’, helping students to see the mathematical through-lines and relationships that will enrich their understanding and also their enjoyment as they learn maths.

“The new mathematics syllabuses are geared for connecting concepts and skills. But many of us have become used to teaching ideas – and our subjects as a whole – in a self-contained silo. How do we branch out to the see the mathematical through-lines and relationships that well enrich our students’ understanding and appreciation of this subject? How do we make connections that count?”

Professor Dianne Siemon’s presentation, ‘Targeting the Big Ideas in Mathematics’, will explore the importance of targeted teaching of key ideas over covering every element of the curriculum equally.

“Not everything in the mathematics curriculum is equally important. The capacity to think and work mathematically depends on the extent to which students have access to small number of really big ideas that research has shown to be essential for success in school mathematics. The keynote will review the evidence base for the ‘Big Ideas’ and consider what is involved in targeted teaching.”

The conference is being convened by the NSW Institute for Educational Research in association with the School of Education, UNSW Sydney.

/Public Release.