Sigh. So much crap …
This one is even more brazen than Chico. It’s more like
Who are you gonna believe, me, or your own eyes and me from two minutes ago?
Rebecca Urban, The Australian‘s education reporter, is notable for her poor stenography skills. Urban has this peculiar habit of not simply buying and then repeating unchallenged a formal authority’s propaganda. Urban’s strange style was on display yesterday, with a report on the Daft Australian Curriculum: Curriculum changes to maths and science are not adding up to success (Murdoch, paywalled).
Urban reports and pushes back hard on ACARA’s problem-solving crusade, this crusade of course in no conceivable manner contradicting David de Carvalho‘s statement that “ACARA is not making any recommendations about pedagogical approaches“. Urban quotes a number of people to query De Carvalho’s nonsense, including Greg Ashman, who is always worth reading and is always too polite. Ashman has a very good and, for him, very snarky post on the Daft Curriculum, and there is probably more to come.
Pretty much everything De Carvalho is quoted as saying in Urban’s report is nonsense, But there is one particular line that rises above and beyond the Chico level of gaslighting:
However, Mr de Carvalho said problem solving was at the core of the curriculum in Singapore, whose students consistently topped the global education rankings, …
Singapore, huh? Well, David, we’ve looked at Singapore, and we’ve also looked at your looking at Singapore. So, we’re sorry, but we’ll choose to believe our own eyes, and that other you from two minutes ago.
Here is what you, ACARA, wrote about Year 6 mathematics in your Australia-Singapore comparative study (p 77):
The [Singapore syllabus] builds on the depth and fluency of Mathematics established in previous years. For example, operations with decimals are considered complete and time is given to completing mastery of the four operations with fractions without the use of calculators. … The comprehensiveness of the problem sets offers Primary 6 students a sense of mastery and confidence in applying Mathematics in useful ways. [emphasis added]
There is plenty more: the comparison of the earlier years is hilarious, as long as you appreciate black humour. Does Singapore do problem-solving? Sure, lots, at least of certain, specific types. But it is absolutely clear to anyone with eyes — or anyone who reads ACARA’s literature with sufficient thoroughness and thought — that Singapore’s problem-solving is built upon a really solid grounding in arithmetic and algebraic facts and skills, a grounding that Australia simply does not offer and is looking now to undermine further.
Urban quotes Fiona Mueller, former Director of Curriculum at ACARA, to counter De Carvalho’s Singapore nonsense. There is also, however, one person Urban quotes supporting ACARA’s Daft Curriculum, and this is well worth noting:
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute director Tim Marchant backed the changes.
“Adjusting the curriculum to focus on problem-solving is crucial to improve their skill sets and deliver students that are able to take knowledge and apply it to solve challenges,” Professor Marchant said.
That is Professor Tim Marchant, Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute there, claiming problem-solving is the “the way to improve [students’] skill sets”.
What can one say in the face of such ignorance? Just, as usual, the Evil Mathologre is correct.