Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Attitudes of teachers to the objectives of mathematics education in the junior secondary school
    McNaughton, Allen E. ( 1976)
    At the same time as "New Maths" was being gradually introduced, secondary schools in Victoria became largely responsible for their own curriculum. This devolution of responsibility was coupled with a serious questioning of the meaning and purpose of secondary education itself, and an increasing awareness of other relevant factors such as how children learn, but secondary mathematics teachers have been so occupied with the new mathematical content demanded of them that other considerations have tended to be disregarded until very recently. The pressures that have increasingly been acting on secondary mathematics teachers have created confusion about the aims of the subject at the junior secondary level. Some teachers have retained the narrow academic aims of the past, while others have rejected these completely. Most, however, have reached a compromise. Five "innovative" and five "conservative" high schools in the Melbourne Metropolitan area were chosen subjectively by an informed panel. From each of these ten schools, two "junior level" and two "senior level" mathematics teachers were selected. Each of these forty teachers completed a Likert-type attitude questionnaire designed to establish their attitude towards narrow academic objectives at the junior secondary level. It was found that there was no significant difference in attitude between teachers of senior and junior levels, nor between teachers at conservative or innovative schools. There were, however, differences in attitude to the aims of junior secondary mathematics within each school of relatively large proportions. The lack of significant differences in attitude between schools indicates that they may be more alike than their reputation suggests, at least as far as mathematics education is concerned. Perhaps of greater concern is the effect on pupils of teachers with different attitudes towards their teaching. The fear that autonomy of schools has tended to become freedom for individual teachers to act alone in curriculum matters is reinforced by these results.