Yep, it’s a conundrum. Like whether or not to stick your hand in a blender.
Yeah, ok, it’s reasonable for Carey to report on this debate, and he does so in a reasonably fair manner. Carey also starts off well and accurately, by declaring as a fact that the draft curriculum ‘has swung towards “inquiry-based learning” ‘. But Carey’s report is primarily concerned with the benefits or otherwise of inquiry-based learning; to this end, Carey’s report is pretty silly, and pretty pointless.
To begin, and with all due apologies to evangelist Greg Ashman, inquiry-based learning is not the most pressing
conundrum failing of the Australian maths curriculum. As we wrote, the most pressing conundrum of the Australian maths curriculum is how it came to be a bucket of dog poo.
But, anyway, Carey wants to write about inquiry-based learning. What does he learn? What can we conclude from Carey’s report? Not a hell of a lot. Carey reports, fairly, what a bunch of Usual Suspects say about inquiry learning, and that’s pretty much it. There’s essentially no analysis or push-back, just a bunch of quotes. There are few clues for whom the reader should believe,* or why.** Donna Lu’s recent Guardian report was way more insightful.
Who does Carey quote? Greg Ashman, of course. And Stuart Robert. And Peter the Not So Great. And MAV’s CEO, Peter Saffin, whose organisation has been such a beacon for proper criticism of the current powers. And Colin Chapman, “one of Victoria’s new master teachers”, and a member of ACARA’s teacher reference group (the reference group without a single mathematician). And head of mathematics Rachael Gore, who is also a member of Carey’s ridiculous “maths wars” panel. And, of course, as usual, not a single mathematician.
Ironically, Carey’s report makes a pretty good metaphor for inquiry-learning. If you don’t really know what you’re asking, don’t ask the right questions to the right people, don’t know how to conclude, and don’t even seem interested in conclusion, what the hell is the point?
*) Greg Ashman
**) Because the other people are spouting utter nonsense.