Action Group 4: Senior Secondary School (Ages 15–19)

  • Marjorie Carss


Prior to the Congress, an analysis of current practice identified a number of key problems in the design of the mathematics curriculum for pupils aged 15–19:
  • There is a great increase in the number of students remaining in secondary education and continuing to senior level. In former times courses catered for a group of moderately elite students; now the group is much wider, and in some countries the ‘average’ students, for whom a fresh style of course is needed, constitute a majority.

  • In most countries the established courses, developed for students bound for tertiary education, lead to calculus and linear algebra. What should be central topics in courses for the majority? Should computing and the applications of mathematics receive more consideration?

  • Since the students now display wider variations in attainment, the curriculum needs to be more flexible. This is especially so where the curriculum is a national one. Is it a solution to the problem to provide a core with options? If so, what should be in the core and what in the options? Curricula are often overcrowded, so what should go out?

  • What new approaches are there to topics such as calculus and statistics?

  • The following conclusions emerged from the Congress:

  • There is general agreement that it is necessary to develop fresh styles of courses for students participating in senior secondary education, but the approaches adopted in different countries vary greatly. Some countries are attempting to accommodate variations in attainment by designing differentiated courses — that is, students are grouped by attainment and follow courses of different levels of difficulty. In other countries this is unacceptable and it is policy to develop modules providing a core and options.

  • There is general agreement on the present place of calculus and linear algebra in courses for the elite group of students but no agreement on the position of application oriented topics such as statistics, mechanics and computer mathematics. However, it is clear that statistics and probability should ideally be given a more prominent place, and some participants were very concerned about the unsatisfactory place of geometry.

  • Hand calculators should be used to their full potential and microcomputers should become a major teaching tool.

  • The curriculum will continue to evolve. Continuing re-examination will be necessary in order to reduce overloading and to update the topics contained therein.

  • The influence of university entrance requirements needs to be studied.


Mathematics Teacher Euclidean Geometry External Examination Internal Assessment Senior Secondary School 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie Carss
    • 1
  1. 1.Education DepartmentUniversity of QueenslandSt Lucia, BrisbaneAustralia

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