MAV’s Sense and Censor Ability

We’ve written about MAV’s censorship previously. It seems, unfortunately, that we may have another such incident to write about in the near future. We’ll see.

There is also a third incident that we’ve long planned to write about, but have never gotten around to. It is rather involved, and we won’t give the full story here, but one specific aspect is perhaps worth telling now.

In 2016, we accepted an invitation from the MAV to give a keynote address at their Annual Conference. We chose as our keynote title Same Sermon, New Jokes. We also submitted a “bio pic” – the graphic above – and an abstract. The abstract indicated our contempt for twenty or so organisations and facets of Australian mathematics education.

A couple months later, the Conference organisers emailed to indicate their objection to our abstract. One can argue the merits of and the propriety of this objection, and we will write generally on this at a later date, but one aspect of the objection was particularly notable. The email included the following:

“While we welcome all points of view, we do need to be respectful of the organisations we work with, and with whom we need to maintain good relations … We would like you to re visit the text … without the criticism of formal organisations.”

We pushed back against the criticism, and ended our reply with what we intended as a rhetorical question:

“You wrote that you (plural) welcome all points of view, which I was very reassured to read. Given that, which formal organisations do you consider to be above criticism?”

The email reply from the organisers included a response:

“In regards to the formal organisations with which the MAV has relations, you have stated some of them, e.g. ACARA, VCAA.”

No one at the MAV, including the then President, indicated to us any problem with this request or its clarification.

For now, we’ll leave it there.

12 Replies to “MAV’s Sense and Censor Ability”

  1. I was at that keynote, as were probably many readers. You (Marty, singular) were respectful of all (except perhaps someone whose initials are JB). They (plural) were not so.

  2. So maintaining good relations with an organisation means turning a blind eye to the malpractices of those organisations. (We’ve all seen the abuses such maintenance of good relations covers up on the global stage).

    The Many Awful Violations claims to provide a voice and leadership for mathematics education – it should hang its head in shame at the good relations it maintains with the Very Crap And Awful at the expense of concealing the deceit and ineptitude of the Very Crap And Awful.

    qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent

      1. They didn’t really cover themselves in glory in the process though. Your dead-pan rebuttal was hilarious.

        Doceo ergo bibbo (if my Latin is correct…)

        1. That’s the point of this post. There’s plenty to write about this episode, most not dead-pan, and with plenty worth arguing. But it is unarguable that the MAV collectively, and in some cases individually, made fools of themselves, and continue to do so. They also seem to have no sense of that. They genuinely seem to believe their censorious position is right and proper.

          1. Re: “we do need to be respectful of the organisations we work with, and with whom we need to maintain good relations”

            But respect has to be earned and VCAA does nothing to earn respect. Quite the opposite.

            And why does any commercial organisation (and that’s what the MAV ultimately is, for all it’s huffing and puffing about providing “a voice, leadership and professional support for mathematics education”) need to maintain good relations with VCAA??

            Certainly maintaining good relations is desirable.

            But need to ….?? What’s the VCAA going to do?? Ban the inclusion of the VCAA Formula Sheet on MAV trial exams? Who gives a flying Philadelphian. Ban VCAA Assessors from attending Meet the Assessors, effectively shutting it down? That can only be a good thing – the sooner that snake-oil gravy train is derailed the better (but apparently it’s a big money spinner, so maybe we’re getting closer to an answer to why?).

            Can anyone seriously think of even one good professional reason for “need to“. It’s long past time for the MAV to speak with the true voice of mathematics educators and call VCAA out on its shonky and deceptive practices.

            1. Thanks, JF. Yes, that “need” is notable, and poisonous. There’s a lot to say about this specific episode and in general. I’ll get to it.

              One correction (I think). The MAV is formally an association, not a commercial organisation. Such associations have legal obligations, with which I’m sure MAV is careful to comply. I haven’t thought seriously about this, but the primary point I assume is that an association ultimately works for and is answerable to its members. If, then, the members are happy for the MAV to behave in a sycophantic and censorious manner, it’s up to them.

              1. Riiiight …. They’re a <snort> association. An association that seems more focused on money than providing a fearless and honest voice for the mathematics educators it purports to represent. It may be an association but it behaves like a commercial entity. Reminds me of a bank – complete with convincing people to buy stuff (like snort Meet the Assessors) that they don’t actually need.

                With a CEO, President etc. who all seem to need to maintain good relations with VCAA. Maybe these guys are frightened they won’t get a Christmas card from the VCAA. Maybe they hope to work in some capacity at VCAA down the track …?? The way I see it, this so-called need is based either on commercial self-interest, personal self-interest, or just pure spinelessness.

                1. JF, I’m obviously no fan of the current version of the MAV, and some of the commercialisation is tasteless and anti-mathematical. But the finances of such a monster association are non-trivial, and I’d be hesitant to judge how they should work.

                  The notion of “self-interest” is also tricky here. It seems to me there has never been a shortage of people whose main motivation in “volunteering” for the MAV is professional advancement and pure, personal self-interest. On the other hand, it is unclear what “commercial self-interest” means for an association.

                  Of course in the end I agree with you. I don’t see what the MAV means now. But again, it’s for the members to decide.

  3. JF and Marty,

    This post and the interesting stories induced my memory from a proverb in my country:

    The King of Hell is easy to deal with but not his inferior goblins.

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