Mathematics is the study of order, relation and pattern. From its origins in counting and measuring, it has evolved in highly sophisticated and elegant ways to become the language used to describe much of the physical world. Statistics is the study of ways of collecting and extracting information from data and of methods of using that information to describe and make predictions about the behaviour of aspects of the real world, in the face of uncertainty. Together, mathematics and statistics provide a framework for thinking and a means of communication that is powerful, logical, concise and precise.
Essential Mathematics focuses on enabling students to use mathematics effectively, efficiently and critically to make informed decisions in their daily lives. Essential Mathematics provides students with the mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding to solve problems in real contexts, in a range of workplace, personal, further learning and community settings. This subject offers students the opportunity to prepare for post-school options of employment and further training.
For all content areas of Essential Mathematics, the proficiency strands of understanding, fluency, problem solving and reasoning from the F–10 curriculum are still applicable and should be inherent in students’ learning of the subject. Each of these proficiencies is essential, and all are mutually reinforcing. For all content areas, practice allows students to develop fluency in their skills. Students will encounter opportunities for problem solving, such as finding the volume of a solid so that the amount of liquid held in a container can be compared with what is written on the label, or finding the interest on a sum of money to enable comparison between different types of loans. In Essential Mathematics, reasoning includes critically interpreting and analysing information represented through graphs, tables and other statistical representations to make informed decisions. The ability to transfer mathematical skills between contexts is a vital part of learning in this subject. For example, familiarity with the concept of a rate enables students to solve a wide range of practical problems, such as fuel consumption, travel times, interest payments, taxation, and population growth.
The content of the Essential Mathematics subject is designed to be taught within contexts that are relevant to the needs of the particular student cohort. The skills and understandings developed throughout the subject will be further enhanced and reinforced through presentation in an area of interest to the students.
Essential Mathematics aims to develop students’:
- understanding of concepts and techniques drawn from mathematics and statistics
- ability to solve applied problems using concepts and techniques drawn from mathematics and statistics
- reasoning and interpretive skills in mathematical and statistical contexts
- capacity to communicate in a concise and systematic manner using appropriate mathematical and statistical language
- capacity to choose and use technology appropriately.