A couple of days ago we wrote about the Australian Academy of Science squirming away from the March 31 joint statement, which they had signed. AAS effectively claimed that the joint statement was mere motherhooding on problem-solving, and “was not in response to” the draft curriculum.
AAS’s clarification wan’t much of a clarification; it was vague and evasive, made little sense on its own terms, and left plenty unexplained, In particular, there was no explanation of how AAS signed on to the joint statement or why, and whether NCMS – the body within AAS responsible for mathematics education policy – was consulted or had approved the signing.
In the past months, we have had many discussions about AAS and the joint statement. One person, who we understand to be truthful and to have a reasonably reliable sense of what happened, has given us the picture. In brief, and to quote them:
“the signing [of AAS onto the the joint statement of March 31] was by educational/administrative people within the AAS, and without consultation with fellows with expertise in the mathematical sciences.” [emphasis added]
We forwarded this exact quote to AAS, and provided AAS with ample opportunity to respond, to deny or to clarify the quote, or simply to indicate that they will respond in due course. AAS declined to acknowledge our email in any manner. As such, and until AAS provides some plausible correction, it seems reasonable to take the quotation as a statement of fact.
What the quotation implies is that the “Australian Academy of Science” having signed the joint statement has the rough authoritative value of the Shepparton Grammar Gazette.* As to why AAS is comfortable with this state of affairs and refuses to correct and clarify the record, and what mathematician fellows of AAS think of all this, one would have to ask them.
*) Such an evaluation would seem reasonable for any statement attributed to “AAS”. As it stands, we can see no way to determine whether any “AAS statement” has received the proper consideration of AAS’s deservedly respected fellows, or is merely the random thoughts of a random employee. Such an “academy statement” appeared in a woefully bad SMH column on July 8, responding to AMSI’s submission. (Guys, it’s pure optimism to expect you to do your job well, but you could at least think about the meaning of “maths experts”.) We have endeavoured to determine what the AAS statement means, and who within AAS wrote and/or approved the statement; AAS has not acknowledged our questions. As such, and until we receive any proper clarification, we regard the “AAS statement” within the SMH article to be of approximately zero value.